UK warns arrivals from Europe to ‘expect delays’ due to border force strike

The UK government has warned that people arriving into the country from Europe over Christmas should expect delays and disruption as border guards go on strike from Friday.

UK warns arrivals from Europe to 'expect delays' due to border force strike
Photo by Ben FATHERS / AFP

The UK Border Force begins a strike on Friday, December 23rd, that is expected to cause major delays and disruption at airports and some ports.

Travellers were warned in a statement: “While the government is taking action to minimise disruption, travellers due to arrive in the UK over the Christmas period are warned to expect delays and disruption over the strike action affecting border control.

“Passengers should be prepared for longer wait times and should check with their travel agents, tour operators and airlines/carriers about possible disruptions to their journey prior to travelling.

“Our eGates will continue to function as per normal and we encourage all those eligible to use them to do so, as the quickest and most efficient way to pass through border control.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the majority of border staff at airports, has called a strike between December 23rd and 31st, not including December 27th.

READ ALSO Do UK border strikes affect ferries, trains and the Channel Tunnel?

It is part of a wave of strikes hitting the UK as workers including nurses, paramedics, postal staff and rail workers strike for pay rises to help them cope with the soaring cost of living.

The disruption is expected to be concentrated at airports, although the ferry port of Newhaven is also affected, and is likely to lead to extremely long queues at passport control – some are predicting waits of up to 10 hours.

Affected sites are; Birmingham Airport, Cardiff Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Heathrow Airport – Terminals 2,3,4,5, Manchester Airport and Port of Newhaven.

It could also cause some flight cancellations and delays if passengers are not able to disembark at UK airports – travellers are advised to check with their airline before going to the airport.

The UK government has drafted in some members of the military to help run passport control, but this is likely to be a very limited service. 

Those travelling to the UK should also be aware of significant disruption on the railways, also due to strike action. 

You can find full details of travel between France and the UK HERE, or head to Local sites in Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Denmark for the latest on travel.

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Air passengers ‘in limbo’ as global IT crash grounds flights

Travellers faced sleeping overnight at the airport or giving up and taking to the road for an arduous journey instead, as Friday's worldwide IT breakdown caused chaos and left air passengers around the world "in limbo".

Air passengers 'in limbo' as global IT crash grounds flights

Those hoping to catch an aeroplane faced long delays, cancelled flights or even the prospect of missing work as the uncertainty left them feeling “helpless”.

At Sydney Airport, where the outage made check-in impossible, travellers milled around as they waited for information, with many unsure of whether their flights would leave.

Wearing a neck chain and a beanie, 29-year-old Alexander Ropicano was hoping to finally return to his girlfriend in Brisbane, around 900 kilometres (559 miles) away.

READ ALSO: European travel services hit by major global IT glitch

“I haven’t seen her in a while,” he sighed dejectedly, complaining that he was left “in limbo” by not knowing if his flight would take off.

“If it was cancelled, it’d be easier. I’d go to Qantas or Virgin and book a new flight,” he said.

“But the fact that it’s not cancelled makes it more confusing, because I don’t know what’s going on.”

Tallulah Kennedy was likewise faced with a bureaucratic nightmare after learning that her flight would not get off the ground.

“I tried to call Jetstar as well to reschedule my flight, but they said I couldn’t reschedule it because I was already checked-in,” the 30-year-old said.

READ MORE: Global IT glitch starts to cause travel chaos in Spain

‘We feel stuck’

Passengers elsewhere in the world were forced into playing the waiting game, especially in the northern hemisphere where summer holiday season is in full swing.

After taking off from Paris Charles De Gaulle airport at 7:00 am, an Air France plane bound for Berlin returned to its point of departure after a 45-minute flight, an AFP journalist reported.

Aboard was 22-year-old student Anja Mueller, who had been hoping to return home after a week-long holiday in France.

“We’re struggling to find another train or flight, and our other option is to sleep at the airport,” she said.

In the German capital, 47-year-old musician Kirk McDowell faced an anxious wait in the early afternoon.

He was expected to perform in Bordeaux, in the south of France, at 8:30 pm.

Both his initial flight and a second trip he booked to replace it were cancelled, but he still hoped to make the stage on time.

“Now my friend is trying to book a private flight with another friend,” he said, admitting to being drained by the ordeal.

Halfway across the world in Washington, Evyn Garson was faced with a dilemma.

The 38-year-old was meant to go to a wedding in Florida with her husband and two young children.

“We feel kind of stuck,” she said, in two minds about whether to hop in a car and tackle the 1,450-kilometre trip by road.

“We definitely considered just driving down there. But now it looks like they are checking bags so we might stay,” she said.

Further up the East Coast in New York, 56-year-old psychologist Cristina Vaccaro had just learnt that she would have to postpone her flight from LaGuardia Airport until the next day.

“It’s really frightening that something so big can happen,” she told AFP, confessing to feeling “helpless”.

Old-fashioned methods

Airport staff have been forced into returning to old-fashioned methods to help flights take off.

Seoul’s Incheon Airport resorted to carrying out check-in by hand, with huge queues developing as a result.

In Budapest Airport in Hungary, staff made up for the blank display screens at the check-in counters by calling out the names of destinations themselves.

It is not just air travellers affected by the blackout, with trains and online banking services also struggling.

In the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, even hospitals were affected by the IT failure.

Supermarket shoppers had to contend with out-of-service payment terminals, with one Waitrose in the southern English town of Petersfield reverting to the days where cash was king.

Not everyone has let the computer crash bring them down, though, with social media awash with memes and jokes making light of the outage.

Many featured Microsoft’s dreaded “blue screen of death” fatal error message, which has become a fixture on countless displays across the planet.

For more detailed country specific information, head to the homepage for The Local France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway or Denmark.