Border Chaos

It’s not just Heathrow – Eurostar is a mess too. I had a meeting in Paris on Monday and was transiting London so took Eurostar instead of flying from Southampton. The outbound journey was no trouble at all, with barely a glimpse at my passport by the French border staff. But the return journey today was another matter.

I queued for the entire hour prior to the train departure, and boarded the train at the time it was supposed to depart (it was 12 minutes late, presumably because of delayed passengers). There was absolutely no reason for the queue, except for the passport check by the UK Border Force.

Their process it slow at the best of times – every passport has to be scanned and electronically checked, presumably the visual check all other European border staff use isn’t enough. But it was especially slow for two reasons. First, there weren’t enough staff on duty – only one of the three cubicles I could see was occupied. Second, the extra checks on people with non-EU passports were done in a way that blocked the lines of EU-passport-holders. The French border guy told me this had all started 4 or 5 days ago – what’s the betting staff from Eurostar have been drafted in to Heathrow to paper over the cracks?

Of course, the reason this is happening is because of political grandstanding by the UK government. None of them has to put up with any of this inconvenience as they have their own rich-and-special lanes, so they are happy to leave the public to be hugely inconvenienced while their political infighting over staffing levels, accountability and “being tough on immigration” plays out.

You may have thought it was just Heathrow that was messed up, but Eurostar in Paris and Brussels is just as bad. I took this video while I was waiting today to help you see the mess Theresa May is overseeing:

By the way, if you’re a TV editor looking for content, go right ahead and use this, it’s CC-BY licensed so you don’t need to ask me.

3 Responses

  1. Simon, hows your experience been coming in through DFW lately? Not so much is mine. I’m usually first line to whine about the “old” country but not this time. I’ve arrived at DFW twice in the last 8-weeks, both times I’ve been in business class, so notionally one of the first off, walk as fast as I can to the immigration hall and join the line for non-citizens. The first time it cost me way over an hour, and I missed my connecting flight as even though I was confirmed in first and arrived in international business, and lieftime Platinum, the gate agent still prioritized a standby passenger… the second time 10-days ago was worse. Only 2x Border control agents for non-citizens, waited for ever, at which people people in the line behind me were pushed over to the now empty citizens lines.

    Oh and you can’t use cellphones in the immigration hall, they are very forceful about that…

    So its another shared experience between the US and the UK…

    • Not done it for ages. Came through ORD without any trouble yesterday, though.

  2. Apparently they are anticipating 4 hour queues at the tunnel forcing Eurotunnel to cut services in order to cope with our glorious border guards inability deal with passenger numbers. It’s an absolute disgrace and the denial of travel must be a breach of our rights to freedom of movement, Last year before it became topical (the tunnel has always been chaos) I complained to one of the goons at passport control who had the audacity to blame the problem on Eurotunnel and its passengers for making so busy. I suppose the government doesn’t care what people think – but then of course 90% of the tunnel traffic is us poor old brits trying to escape yet it is the same public whose opinion (whipped up by the likes of the Mail and Murdoch’s papers) who seem to think our strict border control is such a good thing however ineffective or inconvenient it is. It’s about time those idiots in Whitehall either got their act together or reconsider joining Schengen – who clearly are 1000% more efficient at policing borders. This would also slash the queues at a stroke.
    It’s not worth complaining to UKBA – they are so arrogant about this issues it would be water off a ducks back – they don’t give a sh***. Again maybe we should look to the French for inspiration and think about a riot rather than to feebly complain

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