UK passport crisis as e-gates crash

Technical issue shuts down e-gates at all UK airports

Queues expected: E-Gate crash. Credit: Louis Theroux/

Air passengers are being warned that all airports across the UK have suffered a system crash, which is expected to lead to long delays.

Late on Friday, May 26, the system which controls the processing of electronic passports failed, affecting passengers returning to the UK, according to The Manchester Evening News.

The failure of the computerised system will mean that every single passenger will have to go through manned passport control desks at immigration.

Border control is the responsibility of the Home Office, which announced that it was working hard to get things back online. In a statement, they said: ‘We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK’.

‘We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers.’

Manchester Airport tweeted: ‘UK Border Force is currently experiencing an outage affecting its e-gates. There are currently no significant queues, but this may result in longer waiting times’.

‘Our team is working with UK Border Force to support their operations and minimise disruption. We appreciate your understanding.’

A later update announced: ‘UK Border Force is currently experiencing an issue impacting all of its e-gates. This may result in longer waiting times for passengers. Our team is working with UK Border Force to support their operations and minimise disruption. We appreciate your understanding.’

Passengers have already voiced their frustration with the situation at Gatwick, describing it as an ‘utter joke.’ Heathrow didn’t fare any better and experienced what someone referred to as the ‘mother of all queues.’

A spokesperson from the Immigration Services Union advised that although there is no added threat to security, queues would build ‘very, very quickly.’

However, the system outage puts extra strain on border control workers, who will have to forego regular breaks and passengers who very often vent their frustrations on airport staff.

It is understood that between 60-80 per cent of passengers will use e-gates, depending on the airport.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.