Thousands of passengers had to queue for hours at London Heathrow Airport on Friday afternoon, due to a failure of the e-gates at Terminal 5.
The UK’s busiest airport was hit by multiple complaints on social media as passengers were forced to stand in corridors or remain on planes for more than an hour after touching down.
Documentary maker Louis Theroux was among those caught up in the chaos.
He posted a photo showing a “human logjam” at the airport and said: “Apparently all the e-gates at all the airports are down? That’s what the man just said.”
Another passenger said he was stranded at Terminal 5 “after a long and stressful journey” and said travelling during a pandemic is challenging enough “without this kind of chaos”.
One traveller said their plane had been on the tarmac for half an hour after it touched down, due to the issue, which they said was causing a “nightmare” for passengers in Terminal 5.
Others said they were not allowed to disembark for one hour 40 minutes after landing.
One woman stuck on a plane said the policy of keeping people on the aircraft was not “Covid safe”.
“Hey @HeathrowAirport leaving us on the tarmac to wait for immigration makes NO sense,” she said.
“1. Some of us are on connecting flights and likely to miss them, 2. My flight is PACKED and this cannot be COVID safe, 3. Surely being able to wait safely on the ground with facilities is better?”
Airport management said the e-gates were the responsibility of Border Force – the law-enforcement command within the UK's Home Office, which oversees frontline border control operations.
The airport tweeted: “We’re aware of a systems failure impacting the e-gates, which are staffed and operated by Border Force.
“This issue is impacting a number of ports of entry and is not an isolated issue at Heathrow.
“Our teams are working with Border Force to find a solution as quickly as possible.”
At around 3.30pm local time, Heathrow Airport said the issue had been resolved.