Welcome to the UK – Here's a Massive Queue and a Packet of Crisps

By Gary Cutlack on at

People landing at Heathrow from countries outside of the European Economic Area are facing such lengthy queues to have their passports looked at that airlines are handing out drinks and snacks to stop people passing out or kicking off, with border control routinely keeping visitors lining up at passport control for more than two hours.

Virgin Atlantic is now publicly complaining about the delays suffered by visitors to the UK, claiming that Border Force – the department tasked with manning the borders and carrying out checks – is missing its 45-minute processing target by miles and leaving some travellers stuck in passport check queues for more than two and a half hours. They heard we liked queuing and that's what they get from day one. Happily, though, Virgin is now supplying its queuing arrivals with refreshments from a little trolley, hoping that a selection of drinks and snacks might stop people going crazy from the wait. Look at all the types of sugar-free Coke we have now.

Virgin's flier division boss Craig Kreeger said: "This summer significant queues at Border Control mean that thousands of visitors have regularly faced the longest queues in London to get their passports checked, often over two hours, leaving them frustrated before they've even started their trip. At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression for every visitor every time."

British Airways has also previously voiced its displeasure with Border Force and the way it's turning arriving at Heathrow into a some sort of Merlin Entertainments British queuing experience, although BF says the "vast majority" of arrivals are being shunted through and looked at suspiciously within its required target time window. [Sky News]