British Airways has issued a call to the UK’s Border Force to tackle ‘serious inefficiencies’ that are causing British citizens and visitors to endure long queues and frustrating delays when arriving at UK airports.
For years passengers arriving at UK airports have faced long delays at immigration. Despite or because of the introduction of ABC eGates.
It is routine for the ABC eGates to be closed late at night and even in daytime only a few of the eGates are actually open.
British Airways has called on the UK’s Border Force to tackle ‘serious inefficiencies’ that are causing British citizens and visitors to endure long queues and frustrating delays when arriving at UK airports.
BA points out that when launching Terminal 5’s eGates in 2015, the Home Office said:
“Automated technology, such as eGates, give Border Force the ability to process a higher number of low risk passengers more quickly and using less resource. This reduces queue times as well as freeing Border Force officers up to focus on other priority work such as cracking down on the smuggling of dangerous goods and identiftying potential victims of trafficking.”
Routinely at Terminal 5 only one-third of the 29 state of the art eGates are open. In addition, they are usually shut prematurely at 11pm while passengers are still making their way off flights causing massive queues and frustrating delays.
The problem is not new. Here are some of my own experiences.
British Airways / Alicante – Gatwick / October 2013 / Club Europe
- Club Class with BA from Alicante to Gatwick in October 2013.
- Flight arrived at 1859 (7pm in old money). 5 ABC eGates, but only 3 in use. The ABC eGates didn’t work for most passengers. And for those that did the process took between 45 and 60 seconds.
- As the lines grew, staff started forcing passengers to use the eGates, even though those lines were longer than the human staffed desks!
- Obviously many passengers complained to the few workers. Response from one was “I’m doing the job of 20 people”.
British Airways / Malaga – Heathrow T5 / Jun 2015 / Club Europe
- Club Class with BA from Malaga to Heathrow T5 in June 2015.
- The flight arrived about 2215. Border Control tried to close the ABC eGates at 2300, and started blocking access to them.
- But passengers just ducked below the barriers and headed for the eGates. This continued until all ABC eGates were switched off.
British Airways / Las Palmas – Heathrow T5 / December 2015 / Club Europe
- Club Class with BA from Las Palmas to Heathrow T5 in December 2015.
- 15 ABC eGates, but only 10 in use.
- Many problems at the gates in use, mainly reading passports. A lot of angry passengers.
- Only 2 staff to deal with the huge passenger numbers, both very dispirited.
Questions about UK ABC eGates
The problems stated by British Airways open a long list of questions, including:
- Why so few ABC eGates?
- Why so many problems with the ABC eGates?
- Why so few staff to help with overall guidance?
- Is the system up to the job?
What needs to be done?
Passengers need to know that this facility is available 24/7, easy to use, quick and reliable.
It is quite clear that the ABC eGates have to be open 24/7 and that all airports need more of them.
It is also clear that the ABC eGates are not as reliable and efficient as expected and need improvements in speed and reliability.
The problems look like they come from the UK Border Force.
Portuguese company, Vision-Box, is responsible for the implementation of Automated Border Control eGates in ports of entry to the United Kingdom in the largest Automated Border Control deployment ever done in Europe.
Vision-Box has or will deploy ABC eGates at these airports:
- East Midland
- London – Heathrow
- London – London City
- London – Gatwick
- London – Luton
- London – Stansted
- and more to come
Vision-Box are regarded as the leading company in ABC eGates worldwide and have many successful deployments across the globe.
UK Border Force