Delays at Heathrow Airport have been described as “unacceptable” by the Home Office after reports of passengers passed out in queues of up to three hours.
Border staff faced a huge backlog of travelers, with witnesses claiming to have seen people – including a pregnant woman – pass out while in line.
The Home Office criticized the UK Border Force, its own immigration agency, and said long wait times for passengers were “unacceptable”. He added that Border Force was revising its rosters and “flexibility” to help resolve the issue and improve wait times.
A spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic, we have made it clear that wait times may be longer as we make sure all passengers comply with the health measures put in place to ensure the British public safety. However, the very long wait times we saw at Heathrow last night are unacceptable.
“It’s the busiest weekend of the year for returning passengers, with a particularly high number of families with children under 12 who cannot use electronic gates. The Border Force is rapidly reviewing its rosters and capabilities and flexibly deploying staff across the airport to improve wait times.
“We work closely with Heathrow Airport and its airlines and we are all committed to ensuring that all passengers can travel safely and hassle-free.”
Vacationer Sonny Singh told Sky News he saw a pregnant woman pass out while queuing at the airport on Friday night. He said: “There were thousands of families in line and only two people in cabins were checking documents in advance.
“The children were screaming and crying. The queue moved about five feet in about 45 minutes. Then when the pregnant woman passed out it finally hit someone somewhere – the kids were then put to the side to sit while the adults waited in the queue and it started to go faster.
Singh said his family left Heathrow shortly after midnight after a three-hour wait, when trains stopped running.
Another passenger caught in the chaos said he and his pregnant wife had to wait two hours after returning from vacation in Malta. Jason Reed told Sky News, “Honestly, it was absolute carnage. My wife is pregnant and has back pain so she was really uncomfortable and tired.