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Posted by
1396 posts

Tod There have been problems with immigration for non EU passengers at Heathrow following staff cuts. The minister responsible said in Parliament today that the delays were 'only' 90 minutes. The government is changing shift patterns to attempt to resolve the problem before the Olympics. I think things have quietened down a bit this week so hopefully you won't be delayed too long. Good luck! Alan

Posted by
32245 posts

Tod, I don't believe this is "the norm" but is indicative of conditions at the moment. The fact that they're trying to prevent photos and discourage people from reporting about this is interesting. As the travel season gets up to speed and the Olympics gets closer, I suspect this problem is only going to get worse. This is one reason I try to avoid Heathrow. Hopefully the situation at Gatwick is at least slightly better. Good luck!

Posted by
9106 posts

"Staff Cuts" sort of implies that officers were laid-off. According to the BBC report, there was agency-wide reorganization and a new entity is now responsible for Immigration at UK airports called "UK Border Force". Problem arose when the original authority (UK Border Agency) retained most of the staff during the split leaving immigration desks vacant. It's a screw up of major proportions just before the Olympics. To add insult to injury, passengers of course pay a special tax added to their airfare for immigration/customs services. So where is that money going????

Posted by
237 posts

Thanks for the information. I have no choice but to wait through whatever is there when I get in. I guess I can feel smart about deciding not to by that coach ticket that would have been just 'a little tight' to guarantee making.
Wish me luck!

Posted by
5648 posts

Tod, are you stopping in the UK or just connecting there? You only have to go through immigration at Heathrow if you are going to the UK/Ireland.

Posted by
237 posts

Laura, a good point but the UK is my destination so I'll just have to face up to it. Oddly I've spent probably 16+ hours in Heathrow but this is my first time actually going to the UK. I'm really looking forward to it!

Posted by
1828 posts

I think it just depends on your arrival time. We waited about 5 minutes at LHR on April 2, about 10:30 A.M. On the other hand, the lines when we returned to SFO took over 90 minutes!

Posted by
33134 posts

Michael S I understand that there are now about 2000 fewer front line staff than a couple of years ago...

Posted by
964 posts

I flew into Heathrow last week (from Portugal) and there was no delay at all through Immigration for either myself on a European passport or my friend on a US passport. That was on a Sunday afternoon. Today I met a friend who flew back from Philly last Tuesday and said the queue was horrendous. I guess it's the luck of the draw. The authorities are panicking a bit about the Olympics.

Posted by
5358 posts

There are various reasons behind this. One that has not been mentioned here is that there is no leave being permitted during the Olympics, so there are more people away at present than would normally be the case. As well as being variable by time, it also is by terminal.