Heathrow chaos: UK airport hit by five days of setbacks and 'quarter-mile long' queues

Travellers said they were left standing in line for hours with no assistance from staff

Heathrow has been wracked by problems in its arrivals and check-in areas. Getty Images
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Passengers at Heathrow Airport have reported lengthy waiting times for five days straight, with some weary travellers forced to join “a quarter of a mile long” queue after landing at Terminal 5.

The west London airport has been wracked by problems in the arrivals and check-in areas, prompting dozens of frustrated passengers to take to Twitter to demand answers.

A man named Bobby tweeted Heathrow to question why he was still queueing at immigration desks more than two-and-a-half hours after his flight arrived early on Wednesday.

"Terminal 2 plane lands 06.51 client is stuck in a queue with one desk open. Absolute disgrace!" he tweeted.

Another traveller hit out at the "exceptional queue" at immigration.

Richard Benyon, a former MP who now sits in the House of Lords, was one of hundreds of travellers caught up in the setbacks after landing at Terminal 5 early on Tuesday. He was forced to stand in a long line while waiting to be processed by Border Force staff.

“In a queue about a quarter of a mile long at Heathrow,” he tweeted. “No one telling us about what the problem is. No staff on hand at all. Welcome to Britain.”

Another passenger described the chaos as the “worst queue I have ever seen at any airport”.

“Seems over 100m long just to get to the main immigration area where there will be more queuing. What is going on?” they said.

On Monday, travellers touching down in Heathrow again reported longer-than-usual waiting times.

Passenger Martin Haven described the Terminal 5 queues as “VERY much longer” than the normal waiting period.

Theodora Lau said it took her “40 minutes to get through the queue” at immigration after landing at the UK’s busiest airport.

On Sunday, passengers also reported lengthy waiting times at Border Force desks.

Peter Anderton tweeted a photo of a packed hallway, saying: “Heathrow on Sunday night had a 100 metre queue to get into the arrivals hall which was also chaos. No explanation given.”

Julie Welham, who was at the airport on Sunday, said there were enormous queues at check-in desks.

“Queues like I have never seen – no way to work out which queue is which. 45 minutes so far waiting to check in and not even close to the front of the queue – and loads of check-in desks not even open,” she tweeted.

Marcelo Esquivel posted a photo of people queueing with trolleys at check-in desks.

"Big queues at Heathrow airport even for priority check in," he tweeted. "It looks like they don’t have enough staff for this high demand."

In pictures - decades of flight at Heathrow

Passengers at Heathrow last Saturday were also hit by chaos.

Dr Emma Chapman, a physicist at Imperial College London, shared a photo of a packed Terminal 5 showing hundreds of passengers sitting in lounge areas, cafes and restaurants waiting for flights.

She said there had been “chronic staff shortages at Heathrow” resulting in a “3 hour 20 minute delay so far”.

Last week Heathrow Airport dropped its mask mandate, meaning passengers and staff no longer need to wear face coverings.

Updated: April 04, 2022, 7:42 AM