BA appealing to Home Office over long immigration queues

BA appealing to Home Office over long immigration queues

British Airways has finally contacted the Home Office to ask that the long wait times at UK immigration be addressed. Business Traveller reports that the carrier expressed serious concerns over the amount of time its passengers spend waiting to clear immigration.

They noted that of the 29 e-gates at T5, only a third are usually open, and even those close before the last travellers of the day have had a chance to clear immigration.

As a BA Gold Card holder I have access to their “Fast Track” immigration queues even when flying in Economy. I frequently fly into the UK and have found that this lane is often anything but fast: last June, for instance, my aunt and I arrived at T5 from San Francisco and joined the Fast Track lane, which took over an hour.

This led me to enrol in the UK’s Registered Traveller service, so I now use the UK/EU e-gates when arriving in Britain. The program requires that you’ve entered the UK at least 4 times in the past 24 months and costs £70 to enrol.

However the vast majority of non-UK/EU citizens don’t have this luxury. As BA argued, this is an issue that should be addressed well ahead of Brexit. The UK needs to make immigration as easy as possible – it literally can’t afford not to.

“It is a dreadful welcome for visitors to the UK to be faced with a packed immigration hall and the prospect of a frustrating delay to the start of their holiday or business trip,” said Raghbir Pattar, BA’s director for Heathrow.

Truer words were never said.

Let’s hope the Home Office successfully addresses this issue – for Prime Minister Theresa May, this could be an easy win at a time when (let’s face it) she really needs one.

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