Passengers arrive at Heathrow Airport in London on August 2, 2021. Britain's Home Office said Saturday it is working to resolve issues with its eGates passport system, triggering long lines at the airport during the busy holiday weekend. File Photo by Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE
May 27 (UPI) -- The failure of electronic passport gates at major British points of entry on Saturday resulted in long lines of passengers at London airports as travelers voiced their displeasure on social media.
The eGates system, operated by the Border Force within the British Home Office, is experiencing a "nationwide issue" which is "impacting a number of ports of entry," Heathrow Airport officials said in a passenger update.
"Our teams are working closely with Border Force to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible and we have additional colleagues on hand to manage queues and provide passenger welfare.
"We apologize for any impact this is having to passenger journeys," they added.
A spokesman for Gatwick Airport south of London said the problems began late Friday and that by Saturday morning the lines had began to shorten.
"Our staff are working with U.K. Border Force -- who operate passport control including the e-gates -- to provide assistance to passengers where necessary," he told the Guardian.
Photos posted on social media showed long lines at Heathrow during the busy travel bank holiday weekend, which is coming at the same time as half-term breaks for many British college students.
"Nothing better than turning up to this at Heathrow T2 after a 10 hr overnight flight. Yet again endless queues to get through," wrote Twitter user Kev Dadfar.
"We are aware of a technical nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK," Home Office officials said in a statement. "We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travelers."
The eGates system issues also struck at the British seaport of Dover, where roads leading to the busy English Channel ferry crossing to France were gridlocked on Saturday.
Waiting times of 90 minutes at border control stations to board ferries heading to France were the norm, KentOnline reported.
The latest disruptions came only hours after more than 20,000 passengers at Heathrow were affected when British Airways was hit by information system outages, forcing the cancelation of 175 flights.