(CNN) — A glitch in the national border system has affected electronic gates at UK airports, causing chaos among tourists and passengers arriving in the country. The issue was resolved around 1 p.m. ET.
The UK Home Office, which runs the Border Force, said the electronic gates, which previously did not work, have returned to normal functionality.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
“Following an issue in the border system affecting e-Gate arrivals to the UK, we can confirm that all e-Gates are now operating as normal. We thank affected travelers for their patience and staff for their work in solving the problem.”
Images on social media showed long queues this Saturday morning at major airports, with many seeking travel ahead of a public holiday on Monday and schools also taking mid-term breaks.
The problem meant that travelers had to have their passports checked manually rather than by machine.
“We are aware of a nationwide border system issue affecting arrivals to the UK,” a Home Office spokesperson told CNN in a statement on Saturday morning.
“We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible and are in contact with port operators and airlines to minimize disruption to travellers,” the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for London Heathrow Airport also said on Saturday morning: ‘We are aware of a nationwide issue affecting eGates, which are operated by the Border Force.
“This issue affects multiple ports of entry and is not specific to Heathrow. Our teams are working closely with Border Force to help resolve the issue as quickly as possible and we have additional colleagues on site to manage queues. waiting times and ensure the well-being of passengers.”
Lucy Morton of the Immigration Services Union had told BBC Radio 4 that according to the airport, between 60% and 80% of travelers go through electronic gates.
“There is no impact on national security, in fact it will improve national security because every arriving passenger will be seen by a human being, not a machine,” he said, as the problem persisted. .
“But it will create queues and that in itself creates its own set of problems. People are frustrated, they pick on the staff. Staff are verbally attacked, sometimes staff are physically attacked, beaten. This will all start to cascade throughout the day.
Gabby Gretener contributed to this report