Heathrow opens passport lane for 'low risk' passengers

AOL Travel


Heathrow opens passport lane for 'low risk' passengers
Heathrow opens passport lane for 'low risk' passengers

PA


In a bid to cut queuing times at Heathrow during the Olympics, the airport has opened up special passport lanes for "low-risk" tourists, such as Australians and Americans.

The UK Border Force Agency has begun trialling the new desks for visitors who don't need visas after Heathrow's problems with lengthy queues in the run-up to the Games.

A spokesman for Border Force told the Telegraph: "We are trialling separate lanes for passengers from some countries which generally do not need visas and therefore take less time to process."

The target is to get 95% of European passengers through passport checks within 25 minutes, and non-Europeans in 45 minutes.

The airport is also taking the measure of bringing back recently retired employees as well as civil servants to help keep the queues down for the athletes and tourists who will be arriving in London for the Olympics 2012.

The separate lanes are for non-European passengers who are deemed low-risk and do not normally need visas, like visitors from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Responding to claims of two-hour border queues at the airport, John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, told the Telegraph that staff going home at busy times and job cuts had exacerbated the problem.

But he did also say that British airports are not as bad as other countries.

"I've queued up to get into America as well with my family and it is a far more intimidatory regime than ours.

"What's the most important thing for me at the border is that checks are done properly on people who want to enter the UK.

"That's first and foremost the most important thing, that we allow people into the country who have a right to come into the country, and we detect and stop those people who try to get in who have no right to come in.

"Having said that, it's also important that there is a proportionate time taken. You wouldn't expect at a busy time of day just to walk through any border control, so what's reasonable in terms of how long people have to wait really depends on the resources available and of course the nature of the port."

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