Passengers flying into Britain on Saturday experienced long queues and frustration as a nationwide issue affected the automated border control gates that scan passports upon arrival.
The problem impacted several airports across the country, including London’s Heathrow and Gatwick, which are among the busiest in Europe.
Heathrow said it had deployed extra staff to manage the queues and was working with Border Force to help resolve the issue.
A spokesperson for the British government’s interior ministry, which has oversight of border control, said they were aware of the issue and were working to fix it as soon as possible.
They also said they were liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers.
Some passengers took to social media to vent their anger and share images of hundreds of people waiting in line for hours.
One passenger at Heathrow tweeted: “Been stuck in immigration for 2 hours now. No explanation. No apology. No water. No social distancing.”
Another passenger at Gatwick wrote: “Absolute chaos at Gatwick airport. Border control system down. Hundreds of people queuing.”
The border system issue comes at a time when Britain is easing its travel restrictions amid a decline in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
From Monday, travellers from countries on the government’s green list will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival, unless they test positive for the virus.
The green list currently includes 12 countries and territories, such as Portugal, Israel and Iceland.
However, most popular destinations, such as France, Spain and Italy, remain on the amber list, which requires travellers to self-isolate for 10 days and take two tests after arriving in Britain.
The government has also warned that the green list could change at short notice depending on the COVID-19 situation in other countries.
The border system glitch is likely to add to the uncertainty and frustration of travellers who are hoping to resume their international trips after months of lockdowns and restrictions.