Heathrow warns travelers to brace for up to 6-hour queues

Apr 15, 2021

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People considering a holiday abroad once the U.K. reopens for travel should prepare themselves for what awaits them upon their arrival — massive hours-long backups at Heathrow Airport.

Travelers are already stuck in queues for COVID-19 testing that are several hours long at the moment, and airport officials describe the situation as “untenable.” According to The Times, wait times are “well in excess of two hours and up to six,” and are expected to get worse.

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There are some 800 workers at Heathrow checking passengers arriving into the U.K., but the required checklist put in place for the pandemic is time-consuming. Keep in mind, this is while the ban on non-essential travel in the U.K. remains in place.

Even though travel remains at a fraction of levels seen before the pandemic — so bad that Heathrow recently reported a nearly $3 billion loss due to reduced travel — airport officials fear the bottlenecks will become much worse if non-essential travel is allowed to resume on May 17, as is currently the plan.

The Chief Solutions Officer for Heathrow Chris Garton appeared before the Commons Transport Select Committee to explain how the long delays are putting customers on edge.

“We’re starting to see disruption in some of the arriving passengers,” he said. “If you’re made to queue for two or three hours, it’s not something you want to do.”

Part of the problem is that too many passengers are showing up at the airport without proper documentation. If your travel plans will have you landing at Heathrow in the next few months, here’s what you can do to avoid unnecessary delays. 

First, have all of your documentation ready and keep it in the same place. Second, make sure you have the following paperwork in order: Your COVID-19 test results, passenger locator form, proof of travel test package for COVID-19 tests on days two and eight of quarantine and hotel booking confirmation (if you’re staying in hotel quarantine).

Featured photo by Xinhua News Agency / Contributor/Getty Images.

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