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Fears over Olympic airport delays

There are concerns that visitors arriving in Britain for the Olympics could face long delays at airports, as queues at immigration desks are already causing lengthy delays.

Heathrow received the most criticism, as reports have surfaced of non-EU passengers waiting as long as 70 minutes at immigration desks in Terminal 5. In other terminals at Heathrow, passengers have experienced waiting times of almost an hour at passport control.p.

But it is not just non-EU passengers who have faced long delays, even British travellers and those with EU passports have faced waits of more than 20 minutes to get into the country. This has sparked fears of heavy delays during the Olympics, when thousands of spectators and athletes are due to fly into London’s airports.

The busiest day for Olympic arrivals at Heathrow has been pinpointed as 26 July, when the airport expects 138,000 arrivals through the gates. Heathrow has said it is well prepared for the large increase in passenger numbers, claiming it has the necessary resources to cope with the high volume. But the UK Border Force has come under fire for its plans to reduce the number of immigration staff during the summer.

The move has drawn criticism from the aviation industry and from MPs, with the Labour Party claiming that maximum waiting times had been breached 107 times in the first half of April. Damian Green, the immigration minister, dismissed recent reports of two hour waiting times at border control as “wild”, but said improvements are needed. “These times are too long. Over the weekend there were some breaches of acceptable waiting times,” he told MPs. “This was caused mainly by the severe weather leading to flight diversions and changing flight schedules and the bunching of arrivals.”

For most holidaymakers travelling abroad, delays are something that often have to be dealt with. While there is not much that can be done, investing in travel insurance will cover you for other incidents that could occur while you’re away.

Date Created: 04 May 2012

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