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The Traveller's Magazine
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With 108 days to go until the Olympic Summer Games open in London and the Queen’s Jubilee Weekend just 2 months away, the airports are already trying to deal with the rise in passenger numbers and massive delays at the border. A hint at what’s to come?

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The long queues during Easter holidays have just been a taste at what’s to come in the next few months as London picks up pace and becomes busier and busier. With two major events happening in the same season, you can bet this city will be packed, more than usual, with tourists from the UK and abroad.

Travellers heading to the capital via flights to London will be faced with major delays getting into the country, including Brits coming home after holidays away, mostly due to the fact that there is a shortage of immigration officers and an up in security checks.

As it is, it takes passengers an average of one hour to get through the UK Border with EU passports, even longer for passengers from outside the EU, especially at Heathrow. The airports expect delays to get worse as the summer approaches and especially in the weeks right before the Jubilee an the Olympic Games begin.

The Immigration Service Union estimated delays could reach 3-4 hours during peak times, especially for travellers without an EU-issued passport. One problem, is a shortage of staff (no) thanks to the Agency’s rostering system that doesn’t take into account an increase in passenger traffic. The other problem is that security screening processes have been greatly lengthened.

When to expect delays?

The worst should hit at the beginning of summer, during the Jubilee weekend as the airports get busier. Airports have been promised by Immigration that all desks will be manned during the Olympic Games to keep things running smoothly, it’s after the Games have ended that might lead to major delays.

If you’re going away for holidays this summer, you can expect delays upon your return. The trick is to book flights either in the early morning or later in the evening, when there are fewer flights arriving at the airports.

Will it be a staycation this summer or are you fleeing London as soon as the season hits? Have you checked out our 5 reasons to go abroad this summer?

Img: ukhomeoffice / Flickr cc.

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3 responses to “London 2012: sorry for the delays…

  1. Just went through last night (Friday April 27). When I got to Terminal 5 passport check the wait was an hour and twenty minutes and the line more than doubled by the time I made it to the front. It was very hot. Less than half the desks were manned. There were more officers dedicated to crowd control than to checking passports. Children screaming, mothers and the elderly pleading with the agents for help. People were resorting to sitting on the floor just to get some rest.

    BAA and the UK should be ashamed of themselves – this is no way to treat fellow human beings. They also need to be really careful – the crowd was starting to get ugly. All it would take is one of the crowd control officers yelling at the wrong person and all hell would break loose.

    1. Wow Harold! That sounds traumatic! Heathrow has notoriously long lines to get through the border, especially if you have a non-EU passport. It’s a shame really, not exactly a great first impression to all those arriving to London for the first time this summer…

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