Heathrow may need red list terminal ‘for some time’ says expert
The airport was gearing up for one of its busiest weekends of the year so far as schools close and the summer holidays begin. But there were chaotic scenes at Heathrow as frustrated passengers were forced to queue for “hours and hours”.
A lack of staff and broken machines were blamed for the long wait times.
The delays meant some passengers arriving at Terminal 2 from amber list countries missed their pre-booked taxi or coaches.
Ryan Marshall, 30, a building site manager who now lives in France, said: “I’ve been in the Alps for 10 years, but I’m here for my mate’s wedding.
“It only got busy after we landed, but the people at the back of the queue were going to be waiting for hours and hours.
“Then the machines at passport control broke and there was only one person on the desk checking everyone’s passports.
Thousands of people faced hours of queues at Heathrow Airport today (Image: SWNS)
“My flight landed at 7.30am and it’s now 10am, so it’s taken me almost three hours to come through.
“I’ve now missed my coach so have to get the Underground into London and then get a train down to Bournemouth.
“That doesn’t make any sense to me because I’m supposed to be quarantining.
“When I booked a day-five test in Boots, they said there weren’t any available, so come in on day four instead – it’s ridiculous.
“I’m supposed to be going back in three weeks’ time, but the rules keep changing so I might have to cut it short.
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The airport was gearing up for one of its busiest weekends of the year so far as schools close and the summer holidays begin (Image: SWNS)
“Going on a stag-do and to a wedding has turned into a month-long trip. It’s put me off coming back to England again.”
John Wilson, 53, who works in telecoms and was returning to the UK from Bucharest, said: “There were only two people on the desk and the queues were like a fun park, wrapping around and around like a snake.
“We were halfway through ‘the snake’ when we started, but by the time we reached the desk it was all the way down the aisle.
“Our flight landed at 8am and it’s now 10.20am, so it’s taken us over two hours to get through.
“I had a taxi booked for 9am but he cancelled on me and charged me £35 because I wasn’t there.
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Heathrow Airport said it was expecting to welcome about 128,000 passengers on Saturday and Sunday (Image: SWNS)
“British people seem to just sail through, but for everyone else it was absolutely dreadful.”
Tom O’Connell, 46, a pharmacy owner from Putney, west London, said: “We’ve just arrived from Malta which is a green list country.
“The queues were absolutely ridiculous – it took us over an hour to get from the back to the front of the queue.
“And then there’s another massive queue to the person checking your papers.
“There’s just not enough staff and over half the machines – around 10 of them – were boarded off.
UK coronavirus map live (Image: EXPRESS)
“Most people expect it I guess, but it’s just a disappointing way to enter a country. Plus people coming from different countries are queuing together.
“There’s a sign for red list countries, but that’s it, everyone else is in the same boat.
“Not that I’m concerned because I’m double vaccinated. But they tell you to disembark in rows to stop everyone pushing up the queue.
“It seems pointless if you’re then shoved in a queue with the rest of the plane and other passengers.”
Sebastian Dossantos, 20, added: “I’ve come from South Africa, but I had to stop in Portugal for 10 days.
“I’m here to work in my uncle’s restaurant in Leamington Spa. If I’m honest, it’s been an absolute mission to get here.
“I think that’s the longest queue I’ve ever been in for sure. It took me an hour because there are hundreds of people queuing.
“You could tell people were starting to get anxious. I think there were just too many people coming through.”
Heathrow Airport said it was expecting to welcome about 128,000 passengers on Saturday and Sunday – down from daily volumes of around 230,000 to 260,000 in July 2019.
CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “This weekend is set to be one of the busiest of the year so far. We’re thrilled to see the terminals coming to life again, with most of the shops and restaurants now reopened.
“We have additional colleagues on hand to ensure our passengers have a smooth journey as they take well-deserved breaks or travel abroad for long-awaited reunions with loved ones.”