Queueing in airport passport halls

By | Category: Travel rumblings
I know this is at check-in but you try taking an image in an arrivals  hall!

I know this is at check-in but you try taking an image in an arrivals hall!

The long queues faced by some passengers yesterday evening both at airports and ports due to “IT problems” shows yet again a problem that airports – in particular – don’t face up to. How to deal with the elderly, young children and those who cannot stand for hours on end.

Due to that It glitch, incoming passengers had to have their passports manually inspected at Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Manchester airports to name just a few. At Dover and Southampton, incoming ferry passengers faced similar delays.

It meant that passengers claimed they had to wait – to stand – for up to two hours to get through the checks. As anyone has ever queued knows, there is no seating and nowhere really to lean against as you shuffle your bags (which seemingly get heavier by the minute) along the floor. Young children become fractious even as parents try to keep them amused. Older people look weary and you wonder how long they will stand and the rest of us suddenly remember corns, bunions or that our shoes seem not be as comfortable as they once were.

The authorities will say that people on crutches or in wheelchairs and parents wheeling pushchairs will be “fast-tracked” and this is often right. But the rest of us have no relaxation. According to the rules, we can’t even use mobile phones to tell those waiting to greet us that we’ll be late through and we’ll met you at a coffee shop where, at least, the greeter can sit down.

The solution for difficult or very busy periods is obvious in principle. As computer systems are down, other staff can be drafted in to check the passports are valid (any concerns can be passed to an inspector who will have experience in knowing what to see) at the arriving gate  (perhaps done by the cabin crew or gate staff who are used to vetting passports) and then escorted through. The vast majority will be flagged through anyway under normal conditions.  In this way, delays would be minimised and there will be less need for seating which, in the big passport control halls, would always be an issue anyway.

This may not be a perfect solution but it would keep passengers happier thean otherwise and have less of a knock-on effect.

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