I’d like a long wait please, said no one ever…
London Heathrow was forever immortalized in Hollywood fashion as the place where romance comes alive, thanks to the movie Love Actually. In mid summer immigration queues however, love is actually the last thing on travelers minds. London airports made headlines this summer for all the wrong reasons, with immigration waits lasting well over 2 hours, even reaching a point where airline CEO’s banded together to express their collective dismay. The UK Government appears to have listened, and has in fact acted.
Travelers, rejoice! The United Kingdom will open up its speedy E-Passport automated gates to citizens from 5 countries, effective before summer 2019. Citizens of: Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States will be eligible to use these exclusive e-gates, without the need for lengthy lines to speak with an immigration officer, or receive a passport stamp. Yes, perhaps the one downside of this is that you won’t get any more neat “Heathrow” passport stamps.
E-Passport gates are much like the Global Entry system set up in the United States and expedite your arrival into the United Kingdom. Presently, automated passport gates may only be accessed by foreign travelers who are paid members of the UK’s “Registered Traveller” program, but this new initiative will be free to all e-passport holders from listed countries. The gate process takes about 30 seconds and even seemingly long e-gate queues tend to fizzle quickly. After landing, travelers approach an e-gate kiosk and the process is rather seamless…
- Walk into the automated gate.
- Place passport photo page face down.
- Look at camera and follow prompts.
- Wait for the gate to open in front of you, leave.
Hot tip: rub your photo page against your shirt prior to placing it down for maximum efficiency.
“Sends a message loud and clear to the rest of the world that Britain is open for business.” – Phillip Hammond, Chairman Of The Exchequer.
Automated gates have made a tremendous difference in immigration wait times. Contrary to popular understanding, passenger screening takes place before passengers have ever boarded a flight, and the arrival process is largely a formality. These e-gates allow low risk passengers from trial countries to arrive without hassle. Few travel pet peeves rival stand in line for hours, after an overnight flight. This new initiative will make travelers far more likely to return to the UK, knowing that the arrival process is a breeze. An official date is yet to be set, though the service is said to be in place in the UK before summer travel 2019.