Heathrow Airport: Families returning from holidays face ‘three-hour long’ ‘snake-like’ queues at West London airport

Families returning from holidays at Heathrow Airport today have faced ‘snake-like’ queues at the West London airport, with one passenger claiming she waited almost two hours to get through passport control with her two children.

The huge queues at the airport are being blamed on under-12s being unable to use the automatic passport gates, and so families are facing long ‘tiresome’ waits with young children who have to be processed manually.

This is proving a particular problem as many families are returning in time for children to go back to school in September, reports The Mirror.

Heathrow pointed the finger at the government, saying their officials were in charge of the passport control area.

READ MORE:Latest changes to travel green list for holidays go live with 7 destinations added

Speaking to The Mirror at Terminal 2, Mihaela Quispe, returning home to North West London from Bucharest, Romania, said: “It’s a disaster. I’ve come with two children and the queue for kids was massive.

Mihaela Quispe returns from Romania

“I had to wait one hour and 45 minutes with my backpack and the little ones.

“No water and no access to the toilet because once you’re in a row you stay there.

“The officers are respectful, but there are so many queues compared to pre pandemic.

“The queue was a snake full of families with children.”

Alex D’anna, 47, had landed after a three-week trip to San Francisco with his wife and two children, 12 and six.

He said he’d done the trip ‘100 times’ but “this was the longest we have waited to get back into the UK”.

“The passport control was super complicated, I think because there were a lot of families,” he said.

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Alex D’anna returns from USA on August 30, 2021

Software executive Mr D’anna, from Twickenham, said they’d spent “nearly two grand” on Covid tests in total in the States and UK “just to go on holiday”.

But after waiting at passport control for an hour and 15 minutes he said: “It’s the worst experience I have ever had.

“Obviously the government still doesn’t have it under control.

“My kids are exhausted.”

Samuel Gnanamani, 40, from Chelmsford, had just returned to Heathrow from Delhi with his wife and two children, aged 12 and eight.

He thought the UK had done a “good job” and said the key for travelling is having the right information and paperwork.

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Samuel Gnanamani returned to the UK today

“But the queue [at passport control] was massive,” he said, after waiting for 45 minutes.

Vasilis Moschopoulos, 37, his wife Alexia Doyamis, 33, and their baby had landed at Heathrow to get back to their home in Staines following a trip to Halkidiki, Greece.

“It was miserable,” Mr Moschopoulos said after waiting an hour at passport control.

“The queue was pretty packed.”

Mrs Doyamis complained flights from different countries queued together. She said their line had people landing from Greece, India and Romania.

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Alexia Doyamis returns from Greece

She said the situation could be improved if the government allowed children under 12 to use eGates.

It comes after furious travellers claimed they waited up to three hours at Heathrow to pass through stringent Covid checks at border control on Sunday, when reports said a limited number of desks were operational.

Heathrow Airport said in a tweet: “Unfortunately, we are unable to provide information in regards to immigration queue times on behalf of UK Border Force, who operate and manage our immigration halls.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Our utmost priority is protecting the safety and health of the public. That means, occasionally, passengers will need to accept an increase in the time taken to cross the border, especially during peak travel periods.

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“We will never compromise on border security and continue to fulfil our vital function of keeping the border secure while checking that passengers are compliant with the current health measures.

“Border Force officers are redeployed to provide support as and when required, and are playing a vital role by working round the clock to support arrivals from Afghanistan.”

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