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Heathrow Immigration Lines?

Any recent experience with the immigration lines at LHR? Heading there on June 26. Would like to know what to expect.
I'm NOT checking any bags. That's for sure.

Posted by
1856 posts

My experience was about a month ago. So the situation maybe worst now

Arrived T3 just after noon. E gates were up and running without much of a line. Most difficult part was getting my passport lined up correctly on the reader. Just slide it in until it stops. I recall having to take off my mask for the camera. Probably my glasses too. Barrier opened up and I was in. Baggage claim took maybe 10 minutes. So 10 minute walk from plane. Another ten for baggage claim. I was on the train platform for the Heathrow express in about 35 minutes.

Posted by
8653 posts

If May 2nd counts as recent, then I can give a report. We were some of the first off of the plane and went straight to immigration. This was a bus ride and a good 10 minute walk from where we deplaned. They were just finishing with another plane and after walking through about a mile of maze like walkways (5 minutes) we arrived in line for the e gates. About 10 minutes later we were through.

The trick with LHR is that everything depends on how many planes arrive at the same time and where you are in the masses that are getting off of your plane. I suspect that those that got off the plane last spent an extra 30 minutes going through the process than we did.

I did feel that using the egates definitely made the process more streamlined than in the past.
egate directions

Posted by
2528 posts

It totally depends on how many planes arrive at the same time. Friends traveling a week before me took a couple of hours in a huge queue, I sailed through a nearly empty arrival hall.

Posted by
429 posts

My experience a couple weeks ago wasn’t bad when I transited through Heathrow. The scanning of passports makes it faster (but no more stamp). The bigger problem is that the airport is huge and I probably spent more time walking between places than standing in line.

And be sure to get there early (2 hours is the minimum but believe them when they recommend three) when you leave. They had some issues with the trains or walkways between gates at terminal 5 that caused delays. It’s not a great airport.

Posted by
15717 posts

Technically, you can use the egates. But not all passports will work. Sometimes there is a problem with the egates reading the computer chip in your passport. That is what always happens to me. So, if the egates don't work, you have to wait to talk to an immigration agent. This is not the main immigration line but a separate one for those in the same situation. It all depends on who is on the desk. Usually it's one or two questions and I'm through. In April, the guy on the desk was checking each page with a special light to make sure the passport was real.

I don't even bother with the egates anymore.....I go straight to this special line.

Either way, you will have to remove your mask so the photo in the passport can be matched with your face. Assuming you're wearing a mask.

Posted by
5428 posts

Landed at T3 two weeks ago at 07:50. Straight to e-gates with no queue, on to baggage collection where luggage was already on the carousel and out of the airport. What took the longest was the walk from the arrival gate to border control.

Posted by
5386 posts

So far this year immigration has not been that much of a particular issue at Heathrow although peak time has not yet been reached. Entrance via the egates was under the target 25 minute wait 98% of the time in May from the official stats.

Posted by
18 posts

Went through Friday May 27th and it was really quick and easy. The passport ready was quick once I figured out how to insert my passport.

It was painless and quick.

Posted by
1332 posts

May 6, late arriving day flight from ORD. Got through the E-gates easily in about ten minutes, machine only, no talking with the border force.

Leaving sucked with long lines, but getting in was fine.

Posted by
315 posts

We arrived June 11th at LHR at 10:30am. VERY long line to reach the e-gates, but I timed it and it didn't take longer than about half an hour. As people stated above, some people had trouble having their passport read and were diverted to a 'real person'. Yes, you had to take off eyeglasses and masks for the camera.

Leaving LHR yesterday (Saturday June 18th) was a long process, but did not take the 4 hours we had been warned to allow. Had to queue up just to enter Terminal 2 (which kept the inside from being a total zoo); check-in and bag drop-off were a breeze, but the 'fast track' security line took over an hour. I must say the Heathrow employees were efficient and patient (kept saying the same things over and over w/the crowd control) and some held helpful signs such as "queue starts here".

Posted by
2765 posts

Arrived early Sunday morning on Delta, (can’t remember which terminal that is) but it was a breeze. There was a line it but really never stopped moving and I didn’t time ir but I would say I was through in less than 15 minutes

Posted by
1178 posts

we were there the start of June. About 20 minutes in line to get to the e-gate. You put your passport on a scanner, then there is another scanner where they take a picture of your face. I don't know if it compares them electronically or what, but you need to get your face lined up to the camera so it can scan it and do whatever checks it does. I'd say one in twenty people just couldn't get it to work and had to go see the agent. I had to bobble around for a few seconds but finally it was happy and the gate opened.

Posted by
130 posts

I arrived at LHR yesterday and it took 5 minutes with the e gates.