Angry travellers have been stuck in huge queues at Heathrow and Manchester Airport with Covid checks and Border Force staff shortages grinding things to a near halt.
The snaking queues have been called "unacceptable" by the Home Office as reports have emerged of passengers fainting due to the slow moving foot traffic.
The short-staffed Border Force are dealing with the momentous task of processing a huge backlog of travellers, with one witness claiming they saw a pregnant woman pass out in the queue.
The Home Office has admitted that the queues were "unacceptable".
A spokesperson said: “Throughout the pandemic we have been clear that queue times may be longer as we ensure all passengers are compliant with the health measures put in place to keep the UK public safe. However, the very long wait times we saw at Heathrow last night are unacceptable.
“This is the busiest weekend of the year for returning passengers, with particularly high numbers of families with children under the age of 12, who cannot use eGates. Border Force is rapidly reviewing its rosters and capacity and flexibly deploying our staff across the airport to improve waiting times.
“We are working very closely with Heathrow Airport and its airlines and we are all committed to making sure all passengers can have a safe and hassle-free journey.”
Heathrow Airport has criticised the Border Forces, which manages the checkpoint at the airport. They said they knew there would be extra demand and said they were "very disappointed" that they did not have enough staff on duty on Friday night.
Since Monday passengers have complained of waiting times of up to five hours, as well as a lack of social distancing and access to toilets and water during a process they described as “incompetent” and “ridiculous”.
Photos emerging from Manchester Airport showed hundreds of passengers lining up in winding queues with conveyor belts overflowing with luggage and suitcases, Manchester Evening News reports.
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Passengers using Heathrow have branded the situation a "shambles".
A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: "We are aware that queues at the border this afternoon were longer than usual
"Immigration checks are the responsibility of UK Border Force and we will review events with them to understand how these circumstances arose, and to ensure that passengers enjoy the best possible experience going forward."
It comes as the travel industry continues to face problems during the coronavirus pandemic – and as the Home Office admitted Border Force is struggling with staff shortages.
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