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The UK’s e-gate failure explained: how does it impact your travels?

Written by Travel Adventures

Thousands of travellers were forced to queue for hours, with some resulting to sleeping on airport floors, following a “nationwide issue” that saw e-gates fail in the UK’s largest airports.

The e-gate failure, which began on the evening of Thursday 7 May, has been resolved. However, it has left a lasting impact on travellers, who now view the technology with a sense of caution, having experienced the inconvenience it can cause.

The UK Government website states that there are more than 270 e-gates at 15 key air and rail ports across the UK to “enable quicker travel into the UK”. Travellers may use e-gates at border force if they have a biometric symbol on the cover of their passport, are aged ten and over (an adult must accompany 10 to 17-year-olds), and are British citizens or nationals of an EU country.

Nationals of a handful of other admitted countries, including Australia, Canada, the USA, and Registered Traveller Service members, can also use the gates.

Long queues at the UK Border checkpoint following a glitch in the electronic gate system at London Heathrow Airport in...

Long queues at the UK Border checkpoint, following a glitch in the electronic gate system, at London Heathrow Airport, in London, UK, on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. Immigration officers were forced to manually process incoming passengers.Bloomberg/Getty Images

In an emailed statement, the Home Office explained, “eGates at UK airports came back online shortly after midnight.

“As soon as engineers detected a wider system network issue at 19:44pm last night, a large scale contingency response was activated within 6 minutes.

“At no point was border security compromised and there is no indication of malicious cyber activity.

“We apologise to travellers caught up in disruption and thank our partners, including airlines for their co-operation and support.”

Can I claim compensation?

Compensation is not currently available for e-gate failure, as the “nationwide issue” is considered to be beyond the airline’s control.

If delays cause you to miss onward journeys or connections, check the terms and conditions of any travel insurance policies before contacting the airline or company to make a compensation case.

For further information on what to do if your flight is cancelled, see our guide to compensation and rebooking.


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