Heathrow chaos: families forced to queue for hours as green list expands

Holidaymakers used social media to complain about 'brutal' immigration queues

UK Border control is seen in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, July 30, 2017.   REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
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Passengers at Heathrow Airport queued for hours as border checks and bank holiday travel collided, leaving many furious.

Travellers in terminals 2 and 5 were forced to stand in line for hours as they took Covid tests and reported short staffing at immigration.

Monday is a bank holiday in the UK with many people enjoying an extra day off, making it a busy weekend for airport arrivals.

However, there may be some respite, as it is also the day Canada, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland, the Azores, Liechtenstein and Lithuania are moved on to the UK's green list for international travel destinations from today. Despite the expected increase in numbers, it should alleviate pressure on Border Force officers as they do not need to make as many checks.

Holidaymakers used social media to complain about “brutal” immigration queues and abandoned social distancing.

“I knew Heathrow Airport wait was going to be bad, but this is brutal,” one Twitter user posted.

“Families with young kids forced to queue for 2, 3 hours, standing, no food or water beyond what you've brought off the plane. Yes, it's the border force setting the rules but it's Heathrow controlling conditions.”

Another wrote: “Poor management at terminal 2 … It is taking 4-6 hours to clear immigration.”

Heathrow used Twitter to apologise and blamed the delays on additional Covid checks being carried out by Border Force immigration officers.

“We are sorry to hear this. Border Force is currently experiencing some delays as they conduct additional spot checks to ensure passenger compliance with the UK Government’s latest entry requirements,” Heathrow Airport said on Twitter.

Another traveller wrote: “The immigration process took 3.5 hours not because there was a huge crowd of passengers but because only 5-6 counters out of 32 were operational.”

The UKs most recent travel list changes kicked in on Monday, with Montenegro and Thailand added to the red list.

The red list means visitors returning to the UK have to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of £2,285 ($3,126) per person.

Passengers arriving from amber list countries only need to isolate for 10 days on arrival in the UK and they can be released after day five with a negative test result.

Travellers coming from countries with amber status who have been fully vaccinated with inoculations approved and administered in the UK, EU and US do not have to self-isolate, but must provide a negative Covid-19 test within two days of arrival.

Passengers from countries on the UK's green list have to take a Covid test before and after arriving in the country.

Updated: August 30, 2021, 9:17 AM