UK visitors wait 2.5 hours to get through immigration at Heathrow

Originally published at:


Yeah. I think I’ve been through this before. London Heathrow, 1980 if I recall. And also Cambodia, Nigeria, Chad, Niger.

For the life of me, I can’t find the thread that connects them all. It’ll be some quantum tunnelling thing.


hmm I was planning on visiting in a few weeks, maybe Paris will be easier


Entered the UK at Heathrow in 2016 and the wait wasn’t too bad. Its a shame that they won’t be more integrated with the EU in the future though. Its nice being able to use Euros in most places on the continent. The only strange bit was when the immigration agent seemed to be considering the possibility that my wife, son and I were going to illegally remain in his country, abandoning our life in Australia for penniless lives on the run.


You know, the math problem of how many lanes can process how many shoppers was solved a long time ago - like the 1940s I think. It’s not like it’s hard to predict. In most cases, supermarkets can see if there’s a problem, and put on a few more cashiers.


Ugh. Once Brexit is done I’m going to have to be in those queues too…
Those self service scanning gate things are pretty good.

I’d imagine shoppers don’t tend to be as unevenly spread as airport arrivals.

Yes, a shop has peak times. That’s why staff are on the tills then, but stacking shelves during the quiet times.

What, exactly, does an immigration officer do during the quiet times?

A combination of austerity and an immigration policy that’s described as “a hostile environment” means that the government wants to defund the border checks as much as possible. But aircraft are still disembarking 100, 200 or 400 people at a time - all of whom need to be processed.

In theory, we’d have just enough immigration officers to handle a nice steady stream of arrivals. In practice, the stream isn’t steady at all, and the government has no domestic incentive to send money on making the arrival process pleasant.

A supermarket just isn’t a realistic comparison. Sorry.

The information is available ahead of time. Landing slots are determined weeks ahead of time and airlines know how many people are on each aircraft. Load factors are always high these days anyway.

Immigration officers who are not required can be at home waiting to go on shift.


Didn’t you know, everyone is secretly just itching to enjoy our mild, changeable weather, being able to celebrate Christmas in the rain instead of at the beach, and only having to have at most 5 or 6 bbq’s a year?


You buried the lede. I don’t think the added complexity of the airport makes the problem intractable. Understaffing does.


Nah. It’s computer errors. It always is “computer errors”.


Remember, when the average Brit thinks of Australia, this is what they imagine.

Not shown: everything is poisonous.


Ah, yes, I remember 1976.


The waits are emblematic of the twin Tory values of austerity, which leads to understaffing of key state functions, and the doctrine that states can’t do anything well and should be replaced by privatisation, which tempts Conservative governments into deliberate or reckless acts of administrative incompetence, just to prove the point.

You’re missing the other obvious one there Cory; They’re racist old fucks.
Well, to be fair, they’re not just racist, they only care about (some of) their voters and obviously foreigners* can’t vote, so fuck 'em.
Presumably the rest of Europe is soon going to do something similar to British people trying to travel abroad, which is fair enough I suppose.

(* imagine it being said in the same tone of voice as if you’d just stepped in a turd, to get the full effect)

1 Like

Yeah I read about that.


Well to be fair, that is how Australia treats virtually everyone (that isn’t of Anglo-saxon decent) that comes here too.


All praise the Four Armed Emperor!

the government has no domestic incentive to send money on making the arrival process pleasant.

Because a government running an economy about to experience serious turmoil with most of its biggest trading partners should probably piss all over the tourism industry too right?

What, exactly, does an immigration officer do during the quiet times?

Field phone calls and emails like a million other office staff the world over? I mean I’m sure there is a call centre full of staff dealing with immigration phone calls and emails; why couldn’t those jobs be done in an office in an airport?


Because it is cheaper to outsource.

It is curious that the Brexiteers are very eager to kick out foreigners or stop them from coming while also talking up hopes of bold new trade deals.