Can’t Border Force plan?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The last weekend before many students return to school for the Autumn term has always been busy at airports.

Heathrow where flying in was the easy bit on Friday. Image – Heathrow Airport

Therefore you would assume that airports, Border Force and other interested parties would roster additional staff, open all gates and do whatever they can in order to minimise queues.

That airline passengers numbers are well down means it should be a little easier to plan even allowing for the additional paperwork that passengers now face.

That wasn’t the case at Heathrow this weekend where queues were said to last for four to five hour. The Home office did dispute these timings and, not having been there, I can only list what people who were in the queues have claimed.

At Manchester Airport’s, according to the Manchester Evening News, terminal two, queues were also said to be long on Saturday but nowhere near the length they were said to be at Heathrow.

With that comes the other question. Why is it that Heathrow seems to have more problems than other airports?

Why is it that Border Force seems to be able to roster enough staff at other airports but not Heathrow? Or at terminal two in Manchester on this ocassion? And why was the rest of the airport or other airports not a problem?

Edinburgh, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airports for example didn’t seem to flag up any major delays to their passengers.

Is there a strained relationship at Heathrow between the airport and Border Force? I wonder because the airport said that it was unable to give an idea of how long it would take in the queue yet all it had to do was ask Border Force for an estimate. That is something that airports used to do and, in pre-pandemic days, it tended to be on customer satisfaction posters saying how long was the average time to pass through the arrivals lounge.

The union responsible for Border Force Staff blamed the delays on staff shortage and underfunding and that is a fairly typical response whenever problems arise.

No doubt someone will call for an investigation and little will be heard until the next time.

What is needed is for some real action about Border Force staffing to be done if that turns out to be the problem and not just a convenient blame point.

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