London: Due to a widespread issue affecting the automated border control gates that scan passports upon arrival, passengers flying into Britain experienced significant delays after landing at airports on Saturday.
Images shared on social media showed lengthy lines at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports with hundreds of people, and angry travellers lamented having to wait for hours in line.
A spokesperson for the British government's interior ministry, which is in charge of border control, said, "We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals into the UK."
"We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are liaising with port operators and airlines to minimise disruption for travellers," they said to Reuters.
Britain's busiest airport, Heathrow, announced it had deployed additional staff to manage the lines and was collaborating with Border Force to find a solution.
While many foreign visitors to the UK must first check in with a border control officer after landing, other people, including citizens of the UK, the EU, and the US, can enter the country using the automated gates known as e-gates by scanning their passports.
All passengers must go through manual checkpoints as a result of the disruption, which occurs during a busy time for travel in Britain with a spring bank holiday on Monday and a half-term break for schools the following week.
What is happening at Heathrow Airport? Just arrived to complete chaos. 2 hour lines just to get to the real line," a traveller tweeted.
Other disruptions to British airports and airlines over the past year have included separate strikes by Border Force employees and airport employees, as well as cancelled flights last summer due to a staffing shortage.