Angry passengers vented their anger on social media with one person claiming “only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational” while others called for more staff on duty
Furious passengers at Heathrow Airport have been forced to stand in long queues with no social distancing at passport control.
Seething travellers faced waiting more than three hours at Terminals 2 and 5 to pass through stringent Covid checks at Border Control on Sunday.
The chaotic scenes come after Border Force officials were reportedly told they don’t need to make Covid checks for travellers arriving into the UK from green and amber list countries.
The U-turn was made to reduce queues but holidaymakers vented their anger at standing in long lines which have been described as “brutal”.
Angry passengers vented their anger on social media with one person claiming “only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational” while others called for airport bosses to “get more staff on desk”.
One person wrote: “I knew Heathrow Airport wait was going to be bad, but this is brutal.
“Families with young kids forced to queue for 2, 3 hours, standing, no food or water beyond what you’ve brought off the plane.
“Yes, it’s border force setting the rules but it’s Heathrow controlling conditions.”
Another posted: “We just waited three hours to get through Border Control – it’s not to make families with young children queue like this. Get more staff on desk.”
According to one traveller just a fraction of the 32 counters were open.
They tweeted: “The immigration process took 3.5 hours not because there was a huge crowd of passengers but because only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational.’
Another passenger commented: “23:05 Saturday night Terminal 5 horrendous queue full of families with children waiting to get through customs.”
In response Heathrow Airport tweeted: “Waiting times at the border have on occasion been unacceptable and we have called on the UK Government to address the problem as a matter of urgency.”
The airport added: “Immigration desks/E-gates can only be operated by UK GOV officials – not airport staff.”
Border Force workers were reportedly told last month that they no longer needed to make Covid checks on all arrivals in a bid to reduce airport queues.
According to a leaked report officials were informed they no longer have to ‘routinely’ check passengers arriving from green and amber list countries, The Guardian reported.
Arrivals currently have to provide a negative Covid test taken before departure and must complete a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours of heading to the UK.
Passport e-gates also no longer refer passengers to in-person checks by Border Force officers if a form is not found, the paper reports.
Passenger Locator Forms are still checked by airlines ahead of travel but the Government insists arrivals who do not comply still run the risk of being fined.
But anyone arriving from a red list country must isolate in a designated quarantine hotels for 10 days after arriving at the UK.
They must pay also pay £1,750 to do so.
Travellers at Heathrow Airport were also forced to endure long waits earlier this month.
The delays were blamed on problems with the e-gates and sickness among Border Force staff.
In response to the leaked report, first publicised last month, a government spokesperson said carriers were checking all necessary requirements including forms and test bookings.
They added: “This legal requirement on carriers is underpinned by a robust compliance regime, which is overseen by regulators.
“Compliance with these rules is essential in order to protect the population from new variants of Covid-19, and so there will be tough fines for those who do not follow the rules.”