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:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lvxRv1DMB0]
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.
Filed under: Travel