Home Office warns of Christmas airport delays as soldiers drafted in to help

By Linsey McNeill
Home » Home Office warns of Christmas airport delays as soldiers drafted in to help

The Home Office is warning passengers arriving in the UK over Christmas and New Year to be prepared for queues at border control due to strike action.

It has been forced to resort to bringing in military personal, civil servants and volunteers from across the Government to check passports when Border Force staff walk out at six UK airports and one port later this month.

However, it says arriving passengers should expect longer wait times.

The warning comes despite reassurances from Heathrow Airport yesterday that the majority of travellers will be unaffected by the strikes.

In an update yesterday, Heathrow said departing passengers ‘should expect to travel as normal’. It said arriving passengers with UK, EU, US and Canadian passport holders will be able to use e-gates, but passengers with other passports that need to be manually checked are more likely to face delays.

The Home Office said: “Please be patient and respect officers who are working to keep our citizens safe and border secure, and supporting travellers during the strike action.

“We encourage all passengers eligible to use eGates to do so.

“Please respect staff as we try and get you through the border as quickly and safely as possible. All forms of abuse and any inappropriate behaviour will be reported to the UK police.”

In addition to Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff, plus the Port of Newhaven, will be hit by the strike action.

Strikes will take place from 23 December to about 7am on 26 December, and again from 28-31 December.

The Home Office hinted that the strikes could lead to flight cancellations. It said: “We will work with operators and ports to understand the impact of industrial action on inbound flights.

“Passengers travelling into the UK during strikes should check with their airlines for the latest travel information and advice.”

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