Passport queues at Heathrow have been “unacceptably long” during peak periods in the last few days, owner BAA has told Home Office ministers.
“The Home Office should be delivering a good experience for regular passengers as well as Olympic visitors,” BAA said.
Commenting on the reports of immigration queues at Heathrow, British Air Transport Association chief executive Simon Buck backed BAA and said: “We expect the Border Force to honour their commitment to ensure that queues are kept to the absolute minimum necessary to ensure the integrity of the border.”
The BAA complaint followed a 7am visit to Heathrow yesterday by Commons home affairs committee chairman Keith Vaz.
He said he was appalled to discover immigration queues of more than an hour for non-EU passengers at Terminal 4 and that half the passport desks were closed.
Vaz’s claims sparked a row between the Home Office and BAA, which insisted that the passport desks were properly staffed and the longest queue was less than an hour, the Guardian reported.
BAA figures put the longest wait for non-EU passport-holders at Heathrow at 56 minutes.
A Border Force spokesman told the newspaper: “Keith Vaz is incorrect. Queues at Terminal 4 remained under an hour at all times. Staff were quickly redeployed and more than 80% of desks were open to process passengers as quickly as possible.”
The row followed the disclosure of internal BAA papers showing that the 45-minute target for non-EU passengers was repeatedly missed in June, with the longest wait at two hours, one minute.
Further pressure on the UK Border Force is expected when the immigration inspector John Vine publishes a report on Heathrow on Thursday.
BAA said: “Immigration waiting times for passengers during peak periods at Heathrow in the last few days have been unacceptably long and the Home Office should be delivering a good experience for regular passengers as well as for Olympic visitors.”
Travellers face further problems getting into London after they have made it through passport control as the M4 motorway is closed until Thursday to repair cracks in a viaduct.
This is a community-moderated forum.
All post are the individual views of the respective commenter and are not the expressed views of Travel Weekly.
By posting your comments you agree to accept our Terms & Conditions.