Travel Misery after IT Glitch at Gatwick
We’ve all been there at one time or another. Waiting in an airport seating area with nothing but a packet of crisps and a pile of magazines to keep you company, as you tentatively apply after-sun to your burnt holiday skin. You eagerly anticipate the next announcement to tell you that you have another 15 minutes to wait, which is what it said 20 minutes ago. Delays are every traveller’s nightmare, but still remain a regular occurrence.
It seems that almost anything can cause a delay; a passenger running late because they had to go back home a switch off their oven, the wind blowing too much, the wind blowing too little. But for Gatwick Airport, it was IT troubles.
There was a technical fault with the UK Border Force computers which caused delays at Heathrow, Stansted and Birmingham, but most significantly at Gatwick Airport. Passengers at all these airports experienced delays of at least 90 minutes, whilst for some holidaymakers queuing time at Gatwick lasted up to four hours. There were also reports of fights breaking out at Gatwick and one passenger referred to the queue as the “worst in history”.
The main problem lay with the facial recognition system at the self-service passport gates which could not operate due to the technical fault.
James Brokenshire, immigration minister, told bbc.co.uk that the IT engineers were working through the night to try and solve this problem. They eventually managed to find a solution to the temporary IT issues by the next day.
Mr Brokenshire said: “We apologise for the delays that some passengers experienced at passport controls yesterday, but security must remain our priority at all times… I visited Heathrow early this morning and have asked technical staff to continue to look into the incident to ensure lessons are learnt.”
Meanwhile at Luton airport, more than 2000 passengers were becoming frustrated as they faced delays of up to two hours. Non-EU passengers faced the longest delays and extra staff from Border Control were called in to combat delays. The delays lasted through the night and were said to have recovered by the next day.
At Heathrow, passenger complaints flooded in to staff as water bottles were being handed out, with many travellers saying that they had spent more time queuing than they had in the air. Although the delays were stopped and the IT problems dealt with, the UK Border Control are still unsure of what exactly caused the fault in their IT system.
Delays like this are not just an inconvenience, they can cost travellers money. Travel insurance can be a great way to prevent these delays from costing you extra cash, as it will pay a benefit per 12 hours you are delayed, to allow you to buy food, magazines and other essentials without eating into your holiday budget. Now, this won’t make up for the hours lost to the airport queues, but it can provide the peace of mind that will make it that little bit more bearable.
Please note, Holidaysafe's online prices automatically include a 15% discount against our Customer Service Centre prices.