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Airport delays – live: Bank Holiday travel chaos as passport e-gates fail across UK

Passengers are facing travel chaos as electronic passport gates have gone down across UK airports.

The issue is likely to cause long delays at passport controls for bank holiday travelers flying into the country as all airports that use the gates are affected.

The Home Office has confirmed the news after the system went down on Friday night - but did not say how long the fault would last.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK.

“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers.”

This comes after thousands of people faced having their bank holiday plans plunged into chaos, as British Airways was forced to cancel scores of flights on Thursday and Friday following an IT failure.

Key Points

  • Bank Holiday travel chaos as passport e-gates fail across UK

  • Thousands of holidaymakers hit as British Airways cancels 170 flights after IT failure

  • RAC warns of ‘hectic’ bank holiday traffic as 19 million leisure journeys expected

  • Situation going ‘according to plan’ at ‘busy’ Port of Dover

Bank Holiday travel chaos as passport e-gates fail across UK

10:01 , Tara Cobham

Passengers are facing long delays as electronic passport gates have gone down across UK airports.

The issue is likely to cause long delays at passport controls for bank holiday travelers flying into the country as all airports that use the gates are affected.

The Home Office has confirmed the news after the system went down on Friday night - but did not say how long the fault would last.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK.

“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers.”

This comes after thousands of people faced having their bank holiday plans plunged into chaos, as British Airways was forced to cancel scores of flights on Thursday and Friday following an IT failure.

The Independent’s travel correspondent warns of wider disruption

10:21 , Tara Cobham

Simon Calder, travel correspondent at The Independent, warned that the failure could spread wider disruption beyond the inconvenience to arriving passengers.

“The whole UK Border Force business model – including staffing this weekend – is based on the premise that a large majority of arriving passengers are able to use the eGates. As well as British citizens, EU nationals, Americans, Australians, Japanese and other nationalities can go through them.

“The simple business of checking that a passport is valid, and that it belongs to the traveller presenting themselves, is a transaction that is normally easily and efficiently achieved by eGate technology. With this routine burden removed, UK Border Force officers can spend time on ‘cases of interest’ arriving from abroad.

“But if every arrival has to be checked manually, the processing time increases massively – leading to the very long queues we are seeing.

“Once the flow of arrivals becomes unmanageable in the immigration hall, passengers may need to be kept aboard aircraft – meaning that delays can build up for departing travellers who are unable to board their planes.

“The problem will also affect British border posts in France – at Calais, Dunkirk and the Eurostar terminal at Paris Gare du Nord.”

Saturday 27 May 2023 00:30 , Sam Rkaina

We’re pausing our live coverage of the bank holiday getaway but keep checking independent.co.uk for the latest updates.

In pictures: Chaos at Heathrow as BA cancels nearly 200 flights

Saturday 27 May 2023 00:00 , Martha Mchardy

People queue to check in at Heathrow Airport on May 26, 2023 in London, England (Getty Images)
People queue to check in at Heathrow Airport on May 26, 2023 in London, England (Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

ICYMI: Bank holiday chaos as British Airways cancels more than 150 flights

Friday 26 May 2023 23:00 , Martha Mchardy

British Airways has cancelled dozens more flights following an IT failure on Thursday, what was supposed to be the busiest day for aviation since 2019.

The Independent calculates that at least 156 flights, mainly domestic and European, have been cancelled on Thursday and Friday as BA struggles to operate without essential systems.

In addition, 14 flights were delayed overnight and are expected to arrive during the late morning after delays of 12-16 hours.

Simon Calder reports:

Bank holiday chaos as British Airways cancels more than 150 flights

How much damage will this cause to British Airways?

Friday 26 May 2023 22:00 , Martha Mchardy

The financial hit will run into millions of pounds: lost revenue from passengers who simply cancel their trips; costs of accommodation and meals for customers who have to wait for onward flights; and compensation under European air passengers’ rights rules.

The reputational damage to BA is considerable; the timing, at the start of half-term for many schools, is especially unfortunate, with some families having invested thousands of pounds in holidays which are now at risk.

But as BA has the majority of slots at Heathrow, the world’s most desirable international airport, it retains a huge structural advantage over other airlines, and is likely to continue to prosper despite this latest failure.

My flight wasn’t cancelled but I missed my connection and ended up many hours late. Do I still get compensation?

Friday 26 May 2023 21:00 , Martha Mchardy

Yes. If you arrive at your final destination at least three hours late, you get the same payment as for a cancellation (except for long-haul flights between three and four hours late, for which the payment is £260).

British Airways cancels over 150 Heathrow flights in latest IT collapse: what are your rights?

Friday 26 May 2023 20:09 , Martha Mchardy

You could just cancel and get a refund, but most people will want to travel despite the cancellation. There are three elements to BA’s obligation to you:

  • A flight as soon as possible on any airline (or train) that can get you to your destination as close to the original schedule as possible. If British Airways is unable to find a seat on the same day, then it must search for a flight on a different airline.

  • Meals and, if necessary, hotel accommodation as appropriate until you are on your way. British Airways is supposed to provide this care, but in practice during severe disruption many passengers fend for themselves and then claim back later.

  • Cash compensation, which ranges between £220 and £520 per person, depending on the length of the flight. Under 1,500km: £220; 1,500-3,500km, £350; above 3,500km, £520. Because of the sheer number of passengers affected, payments are likely to take months rather than weeks.

Simon Calder reports:

British Airways cancels over 150 flights in latest IT collapse: what are your rights?

Cancelled flights and snarled up roads throw biggest bank holiday rush since 2019 into chaos

Friday 26 May 2023 19:00 , Martha Mchardy

As millions of families begin half-term week, and many others start bank holiday weekend getaways, travel within and departing from the UK is looking tumultuous.

The AA has said that 17 million drivers will take to the roads, while British Airways has cancelled 60 more flights to and from London Heathrow.

Even allowing for the cancelled flights, which are due to an IT issue, Friday is expected to be the busiest day for flying from the UK since before the Covid pandemic.

Simon Calder reports:

Heathrow chaos marks start of biggest bank holiday rush since 2019

Situation at Heathrow ‘shocking’ says man who missed Hans Zimmer concert due to cancellation

Friday 26 May 2023 17:56 , Andy Gregory

One British man has described the situation at Heathrow as “absolutely shocking” as he and his wife missed out on seeing film composer Hans Zimmer perform in Berlin due to British Airways cancelling their flight.

Antony Knights, 44, said that when issues with the Berlin flight were communicated, “Terminal 5 turned into absolute chaos and pretty much everybody was queuing to speak to the desk, and there were only two members of BA staff on it and zero announcements.

“There were only two members of staff manning the queue, which was probably around 100 metres long. There were people everywhere needing assistance.

“It was pretty disappointing and frustrating. Things happen from time to time but this is not the first time British Airways systems have impacted people.”

Antony Knights missed out on seeing a Hans Zimmer concert in Berlin (Antony Knights/PA Wire)
Antony Knights missed out on seeing a Hans Zimmer concert in Berlin (Antony Knights/PA Wire)

Heathrow: British Airways delays build with many departures now close to midnight

Friday 26 May 2023 17:04 , Andy Gregory

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder reports:

Residents around London Heathrow airport are in for another noisy late night due to the unravelling schedules at British Airways.

Normally the latest scheduled passenger flights are at 10.40pm: Avianca to Bogota and Air China to Shanghai. But on Thursday night/Friday morning departures continued well into the 11pm hour, with one – to Edinburgh – taking off after midnight.

The 8.40pm from Heathrow to Oslo is currently scheduled to depart at 11.44pm on Friday, with several other flights around two hours late – including the 8.20pm to Prague. It is due to operated by an Airbus A319 that has not yet left Heathrow – but must fly to Budapest and back to London before returning to central Europe.

Holidaymakers wait at British Airways check in at Terminal 3, from which some of the cancelled flights were due to depart (Simon Calder/The Independent)
Holidaymakers wait at British Airways check in at Terminal 3, from which some of the cancelled flights were due to depart (Simon Calder/The Independent)
 (Simon Calder/The Independent)
(Simon Calder/The Independent)

‘Occurrences like this are becoming all too familiar'

Friday 26 May 2023 16:40 , Andy Gregory

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel magazine, said: “The busy holiday season is only just beginning but already BA is breaking its promises to its customers that it would avoid a repeat of last year’s travel chaos, with thousands of passengers now finding themselves in holiday hell as a result of yet another IT disaster.

“Occurrences like this are becoming all too familiar. BA has a legal responsibility to refund or reroute any passenger caught up in the chaos, and travellers shouldn’t be shy about enforcing their rights.”

British Airways makes yet more cancellations as airline struggles to recover schedule – total nearing 200

Friday 26 May 2023 16:18 , Simon Calder

British Airways has made a fresh wave of cancellations of early evening flights from London Heathrow as it struggles to recover from Thursday’s IT failure.

Within the past hour, five domestic flights – to Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Manchester and Newcastle – have been grounded.

European destinations have also been hit, with early evening links to Venice, Prague, Stuttgart and Zurich among the fallers.

The latest round of cancellations brings the total of flights axed by the latest IT failure to nearly 200.

BA cancellations: What are your rights?

Friday 26 May 2023 15:50 , Andy Gregory

Once again British Airways’ Heathrow operation is in disarray due to an IT failure.

You could just cancel and get a refund, but most people will want to travel despite the cancellation. There are three elements to BA’s obligation to you:

  • A flight as soon as possible on any airline (or train) that can get you to your destination as close to the original schedule as possible. If British Airways is unable to find a seat on the same day, then it must search for a flight on a different airline.

  • Meals and, if necessary, hotel accommodation as appropriate until you are on your way. British Airways is supposed to provide this care, but in practice during severe disruption many passengers fend for themselves and then claim back later.

  • Cash compensation, which ranges between £220 and £520 per person, depending on the length of the flight. Under 1,500km: £220; 1,500-3,500km, £350; above 3,500km, £520. Because of the sheer number of passengers affected, payments are likely to take months rather than weeks.

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has more details in this explainer:

British Airways cancels over 150 flights in latest IT collapse: what are your rights?

The usual suspects: Edinburgh, Milan and Geneva top BA cancellation league table

Friday 26 May 2023 15:22 , Andy Gregory

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has this exclusive analysis:

Passengers booked on British Airways between London Heathrow and Edinburgh have seen 10 cancellations in the past 24 hours as a result of the latest IT failure.

Out of a total of 23 flights each way between the Scottish capital and Heathrow on Thursday and Friday, 43 per cent were grounded.

One of the flights that did depart was so badly delayed that it took off from Heathrow on the wrong day. BA1440 was due out at 9.15pm on Thursday but eventually took off just after midnight on Friday, arriving in Edinburgh at 1am.

Milan also experienced 10 cancellations, but these were split between Linate (six) and Malpensa (four).

To Geneva, eight of the scheduled 23 flights were grounded – 31 per cent of the total.

Three airports have seen six cancellations each: Belfast City, Nice and Paris CDG.

When British Airways is obliged to ground large numbers of flights, it will usually aim for high-frequency routes.

However, some holiday flights with limited alternatives have been hit. One of three flights from Heathrow to Faro on the Portuguese Algarve, and one of four to Malaga on Spain’s Costa del Sol, were grounded on Friday.

Port of Dover says wait times for ferries improving

Friday 26 May 2023 14:57 , Andy Gregory

Things are going “according to plan” at the Port of Dover, authorities have said, as wait times for coaches and private cars were said to have reduced over the past few hours.

While cars and coaches were earlier said to face queues of 90 and 60 minutes respectively, that has now been shortened to wait times of 30 and 40 minutes.

Watch: Bank holiday weekend could bring hottest day of 2023 so far

Friday 26 May 2023 14:20 , Andy Gregory

British Airways Heathrow cancellations increase to 170

Friday 26 May 2023 14:02 , Andy Gregory

By noon, the number of “on-the-day” cancellations of British Airways short-haul flights to and from Heathrow had increased to 60 on Friday, reports our travel correspondent Simon Calder.

With 110 cancellations by BA on Thursday, and inbound to Heathrow on Friday morning, the fresh cancellations bring the total to 170.

BA cancelled multiple departures to and from key holiday destinations, including four flights between Heathrow and Athens and six to and from Nice.

Geneva and Milan also had six cancellations each. Edinburgh passengers have seen a dozen flights to and from Heathrow grounded in the past 24 hours.

BA must buy tickets on rival airlines for disrupted passengers to get them to their destinations on the same day as originally booked, if space is available. But at the start of the half-term week for many schools and the bank holiday weekend, few spare seats are available.

Full report: Heathrow chaos and snarled up roads mark start of biggest bank holiday rush since 2019

Friday 26 May 2023 13:43 , Simon Calder

As millions of families begin half-term week, and many others start bank holiday weekend getaways, travel within and departing from the UK is looking tumultuous.

The AA has said that 17 million drivers will take to the roads, while British Airways has cancelled dozens more flights to and from London Heathrow, and the AA expects 17 million drivers to take to the

Even allowing for the cancelled flights, which are due to an IT issue, Friday is expected to be the busiest day for flying from the UK since before the Covid pandemic.

Read the full report here:

Heathrow chaos marks start of biggest bank holiday rush since 2019

Where are traffic delays expected?

Friday 26 May 2023 13:24 , Andy Gregory

According to the traffic analyst Inrix, there could be severe delays on key routes.

  • On Friday, the busiest times are expected to be 11am-2pm, with the M5 between Bristol and Taunton likely to see particularly heavy traffic.

  • On Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday Monday, roads will be busiest between 2pm and 7pm. The M25 will be under pressure, especially anticlockwise from junction 4 to the Dartford Crossing.

  • The M6 in Cheshire and Lancashire is predicted to be busy on Sunday afternoon.

Contingency plans appear to be working at Dover

Friday 26 May 2023 13:08 , Andy Gregory

At Dover, where the first weekend of the Easter school holidays was marked by long delays for coaches travelling to France, contingency plans appear to be working, reports our correspondent Simon Calder.

Coaches are being marshalled away from the main port, but once they reach the French border checks processing is swift.

The port says that tourist cars are facing a wait of 90 minutes and coaches one hour. After Brexit a hard EU border was imposed in the port, with all British travellers required to have their passport inspected and stamped.

Truck traffic is being controlled to limit delays for tourists.

‘Many will have travelled to the airport pointlessly'

Friday 26 May 2023 12:51 , Andy Gregory

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, has given his take on the cancellations this morning, after noting that “British Airway's annual IT meltdown appears to have arrived on time”.

He writes: “BA hasn't given passengers much if any notice, so many will have travelled to the airport pointlessly which makes the whole thing so much more frustrating.”

Delays reported on M3 as road traffic queues begin

Friday 26 May 2023 12:38 , Andy Gregory

Here’s an update on the roads from our deputy travel editor Benjamin Parker:

There have been delays of at least 10 minutes reported throughout the morning on the M3, with a collision at junction 13 (northbound) only adding to that. Those looking to take other routes, such as through Eastleigh, are being warned that there are 20-minute delays through the town.

M3 traffic has backed up in both directions on the M27, with queues of 15 minutes.

The pinch point of the A27 at Arundel is causing delays, and in the Brighton and Hove area there are reports of slow moving or stationary traffic on the A27 – queues are forming.

As for the M25, Britain’s busiest motorway, traffic is queuing in multiple locations, including for miles at junction 10 (A3/Guildford) due to congestion. There is also congested traffic near junction 15 (for the M4) and junction 16 for the M40 on both sides of the carriageway.

Heathrow security staff strike overshadowed by BA cancellations

Friday 26 May 2023 12:13 , Andy Gregory

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder has the latest on the industrial action in the travel sector:

Partly as a result of the British Airways cancellations, day two of a strike by security staff at Terminal 5, BA’s main base, is having little effect.

At other leading airports, journeys are proving smooth – with the main issue at Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow being cancellations of BA flights to and from Heathrow.

Staff working at Edinburgh airport have voted strongly in favour of a strike over pay, but no industrial action has yet been called.

The Unite union clearly expects the airport bosses to come back with an improved offer – but warns of “travel chaos” in the summer if a walk-out goes ahead. The airport says it has already made a “fair and generous” pay proposal.

BA cancellations to cost many millions – but not on scale of 2017 bank holiday IT failure

Friday 26 May 2023 12:03 , Andy Gregory

Our travel correspondent Simon Calder reports:

The BA cancellations are not on the scale of the late May bank holiday 2017, when another IT failure led to all the airline’s operations at Heathrow and Gatwick being grounded. But the cost in lost revenue, hotel costs and passenger compensation will run into many millions of pounds.

Holidaymakers forced to queue at airports as cancellations hit busy bank holiday weekend

Friday 26 May 2023 11:26 , Andy Gregory

Holidaymakers have been queueing at airports this morning, as British Airways cancellations hit what was expected to be the busiest weekend for aviation since 2019.

Here are the queues at Manchester Airport’s Terminal 2:

 (Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP)
(Ioannis Alexopoulos/LNP)

At Heathrow’s Terminal 5, passengers were also seen waiting in long lines to be rebooked, as British Airways cancelled dozens of flights.

Still long queues at Heathrow Terminal 5 as British Airways customers on cancelled flights wait to be rebooked (Supplied)
Still long queues at Heathrow Terminal 5 as British Airways customers on cancelled flights wait to be rebooked (Supplied)

DVLA issues urgent health warning to British drivers

Friday 26 May 2023 11:14 , Andy Gregory

As millions of drivers are set to hit the road this bank holiday weekend, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is reportedly set to update its guidance for drivers with eye conditions “within weeks”.

The agency is said to have made the move after the Association of Optometrists (AOP) “raised serious concerns” over the published list of notifiable health conditions last year. It claimed it was “so extensive that it could apply to almost every driver who receives a sight test”.

In response, the AOP claims that the DVLA has agreed to revise the list, with updated guidance due to be published “in the coming weeks”.

Oliver Pritchard-Jones has the full report:

DVLA issues urgent health warning to British drivers

Wait times of an hour for tourist cars and coaches at ‘busy’ Dover port

Friday 26 May 2023 11:03 , Andy Gregory

The Port of Dover is said to be “busy” as predicted, but processing traffic “well”, with queues of an hour for tourist cars and coaches waiting to cross the Channel.

Here are some pictures from the port:

Traffic queues for ferries at the Port of Dover in Kent (PA)
Traffic queues for ferries at the Port of Dover in Kent (PA)
Lorries queue for the Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent as the getaway for half term and the bank holiday weekend begins (PA)
Lorries queue for the Port of Dover along the A20 in Kent as the getaway for half term and the bank holiday weekend begins (PA)

17 million drivers expected to hit roads as fuel prices fall, says AA

Friday 26 May 2023 10:31 , Andy Gregory

In a slightly lower forecast than the RAC, the AA expects 17 million drivers to hit the roads this weekend as motorists take advantage of lower fuel prices.

“With fuel in some areas at its lowest price since October 2021, many drivers may want to take advantage of the price drop by heading onto the open road. This, coupled with school half-term holidays is likely to lead to much busier than normal roads, particularly around leisure attractions and parks,” the AA said.

“For those fortunate enough to be heading on a road trip abroad, main ports, particularly Dover, where Operation Brock is in place, in addition to Portsmouth and Hull, will see an upturn in traffic so it’s important to plan ahead by checking for travel updates and by keeping plenty of food and drink in your car in case you do get stuck in heavy delays.”

Luke Bosdet, the AA’s fuel price spokesperson, added: “Lower pump prices, with diesel’s average this week down 50p from last summer’s peak to below 150p a litre and petrol typically at 143p a litre, will not only encourage more holiday drivers onto the road but ensure that more of their spending goes to tourism and not the fuel trade.

“Having said that, the often huge price variations depending on where you fill up will drive many drivers round the bend.”

RAC warns cost of living could see ‘more avoidable breakdowns’ on ‘hectic’ weekend

Friday 26 May 2023 10:20 , Andy Gregory

The RAC has warned that the cost of living crisis could result in more breakdowns on what it has said could be the busiest late May bank holiday weekend on Britain’s roads since before the pandemic.

“With so many households under the cosh financially, we’re concerned that a lack of essential maintenance might lead to more avoidable breakdowns than we’d normally see,” said RAC breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis.

“So we’re reminding everyone to ensure their cars are as a ready for a getaway as they can be – if a vehicle hasn’t been serviced recently, this is the week to get one done by a qualified professional.

He added: “Whether a car’s been serviced lately or not, a quick look at oil and coolant levels, together with checking tyres are in good condition and inflated properly, can go a long way to avoiding an unwelcome stop at the side of the road this weekend.”

RAC issues warning to drivers over busiest late May bank holiday since 2019

Friday 26 May 2023 10:12 , Andy Gregory

Motoring group RAC has warned of a “hectic period on major roads” as drivers are expected to make more than 19 million leisure trips over the bank holiday weekend, which would amount to the most since 2019.

RAC breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “With the travel restrictions imposed during Covid now thankfully a distant memory, it’s clear drivers’ desire to getaway has been reignited with our figures for this coming weekend suggesting leisure traffic volumes will be close to what we last saw in 2019.

“With the Met Office currently predicting largely settled weather with above average temperatures, we’re expecting this to be a hectic period on major roads as people aim to make the most of the last long weekend before August – and that means it will be a busy time for our patrols too.”

What has British Airways said about the cancellations?

Friday 26 May 2023 10:09 , Andy Gregory

British Airways has blamed the “knock-on effect of a technical issue” as it cancelled dozens more flights on Friday.

A spokesperson said: “While the vast majority of our flights continue to operate today, we have cancelled some of our short-haul flights from Heathrow due to the knock-on effect of a technical issue that we experienced yesterday.

“We’ve apologised to customers whose flights have been affected and offered them the option to rebook to an alternative flight with us or another carrier or request a refund.”

The airline is telling passengers: “We’re aware of a technical issue, which we have been working hard to fix. Due to high call volumes please only contact us if you’re due to travel in the next 48 hours.”

British Airways cancels dozens more flights after IT failure

Friday 26 May 2023 10:08 , Andy Gregory

British Airways has cancelled dozens more flights following an IT failure on Thursday, what was supposed to be the busiest day for aviation since 2019, reports our travel correspondent Simon Calder.

The Independent calculates that at least 156 flights, mainly domestic and European, have been cancelled on Thursday and Friday as BA struggles to operate without essential systems.

In addition, 14 flights were delayed overnight and are expected to arrive during the late morning after delays of 12-16 hours.

With many planes fully booked at the start of the bank holiday weekend, the number of passengers affected is likely to top 25,000 – with many more seriously delayed and/or encountering missed connections.

Fifty-five outbound short-haul flights were grounded on Thursday afternoon and evening, with 21 inbound trips also grounded on Thursday.

Friday morning sees 36 inbound flights cancelled as a result of planes and pilots being in the wrong places on Thursday night. In addition, British Airways has grounded a fresh wave of 46 Friday flights, including to and from Athens, Warsaw, Reykjavik and Tirana.

Bank holiday chaos as British Airways cancels more than 150 flights

Friday 26 May 2023 10:01 , Andy Gregory

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s bank holiday travel blog, which we’ll be using to bring you the latest updates.