Heathrow staff faced a passenger ‘mutiny’ yesterday with security staff stepping in to stop furious passengers ‘leaping over’ malfunctioning passport barriers, a witness has claimed.
The chaos erupted after some of the machines stopped working, with passengers saying they were forced to queue for hours following an in-direct flight from Dubai.
He said some tried to climb over barriers before they were tackled and detained by Border Force officers.
The Home Office confirmed two people ‘attempted to evade being checked’ but were ‘immediately’ stopped by officials.
A ban on direct flights from Dubai to the UK came into force last week, with passengers rushing back to Britain before the rules kicked in.
People queue at terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport over the weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic
Describing the Heathrow chaos, Mr Raza told
‘They had been waiting in the queue for ages. Processing those queues takes forever.’
The businessman is now self-isolating at home but said he waited almost two hours on touching down at Heathrow before he could leave.
He slammed the situation at Heathrow as a ‘shambles’ and said it was far worse than what he’d seen in Dubai and Frankfurt.
Mr Raza also said that customs officers were only interested in checking his Covid PCR test was negative and didn’t even scan his passenger locator form.
This was disputed by a Border Force spokesman.
Mr Raza continued: ‘There’s absolutely no social distancing, it’s ridiculous. Behind me the machines stopped working and there was a bit of a mutiny, people started jumping over the barriers of the automated machines. There was a melee…security pacified the situation.’
Mr Raza was in Dubai for business meetings with two others from the UK.
He accused the British government of ‘political grandstanding’ with the snap travel ban to Dubai, following criticism of influencers travelling there.
A ban on direct flights from Dubai to the UK came into force last week, with passengers rushing back to Britain before the rules kicked in
Emma Moore, Chief Operating Officer at Border Force, said: ‘We are in a global health pandemic which is why every traveller is subject to enhanced monitoring at UK airports in line with the public health measures at the border.’
‘Every airport across the UK has a responsibility to comply with social distancing and Covid compliant measures on site.’
A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘Long queues at the border should not be a surprise to the Home Office.
‘We warned the Home Secretary last year that Border Force was consistently failing to meet its 45-minute queue standard, and it’s clear from the last week that adequate steps have not been taken to address these.
‘It is not reasonable, not should it be necessary, for any airport to have space to hold arriving passengers for up to three hours.
‘The Home Office needs to get to grips with this issue.’
Dubai, which is home to some 240,000 British expats and is a major tourist destination for UK travellers, is likely to face a major economic hit from the travel ban
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