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Heathrow Immigration Lines Going from Totally Disastrous to Funny Disastrous

June 1, 2012 at 6:21 PM | by | ()

It's not just that London's Heathrow airport sucks, although of course it very much sucks. The runways are inadequate, the facilities are derelict, and the passport control queues in the world's self-declared "most cosmopolitan capital evuh" rival Soviet Union bread lines. BAA has been unable or unwilling to fix LHR's most visible problems and British tabloids, in their inimitable style, have taken to endlessly shredding airport officials. "Heathrow Hell" gets over 9,000 Google hits.

But the point about Heathrow is that when things go wrong they go spectacularly wrong, to the point where you almost have to marvel at the combination of aggressive incompetence, bureaucratic malaise, and sheer bad luck. We still remember how in 2010 Bulgaria had to send rescue planes to Heathrow to pick up their snowed-in citizens, as if London was some kind of Third World war zone.

All of which brings us to Heathrow's passport control lines and border issues. While LHR has been getting busier and busier—last Easter saw record travel—the Home Office, which is responsible for border security, has been less than adequate in keeping up. Striking immigration officers have caused grinding delays year after year. Technological fixes such as iris scanners have been embraced to the tune of millions of pounds only to be abandoned. And now Olympic travel is set to bring everything to a crescendo.

Tweeted Olympian Barbara Kendall, who arrived in London earlier this week, "Heathrow Airport Immigration is a nightmare!! took me 2 hours to get through and it is not Olympic time yet." Other tweets pegged wait at 4 hours. The Home Office has been trying to stifle this kind of bad social media for months, taking the deeply pathetic step of asking BAA to more closely enforce the ban on photography in the endless immigration lines. All the mobile pics of were starting to sting.

The rest of Britain, in the hilariously morbid way that the Brits do, has taken to piling on the Home Office's woes. BAA began handing out leaflets trashing the border control agency and giving people tips on where to complain. Birmingham airport is advertising off Heathrow's problems. This, we predict, will only get more entertaining. Provided that you're watching it from far, far away.

[Photo: @nightcrow / Twitpic]

Archived Comments:


Bad story... ahhh

London or go on holiday, during the Olympics

Well, it is a big airport and used to getting a big crowd but I am sure during the Olympic Games there will be HUGE problems. I am sure this is true for whole London so personally, I prefer going for holiday, for that period :)