The British government has revealed that, in 2019, holders of American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese passports can use LHR’s eGates. The privilege was previously only granted to European passport holders. The move is seen as an attempt to encourage ties with non-European nations.
Long lines at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) have been the bane of many an arriving traveler over the last few months, but it seems that – for some passengers, at least – a reprieve is in sight. On Monday, the British government announced that holders of American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese passports will be permitted to use LHR’s eGates, something that should make entry formalities move more swiftly and smoothly.
Though this news garnered only a small paragraph of a recent press release issued by LHR, this announcement is notable in that it comes just as Brexit negotiations enter a new phase. As NerdWallet indicates, it is hoped that this relaxation of rules for this particular group of passport holders will help to encourage and foster stronger trade ties among travelers from non-European nations.
This speedier processing comes just months after both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic criticized the immigration wait times for non-European nationals arriving at the airport, which were exceeding two hours in length.
Speaking to the BBC this past August, Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, was quoted by the outlet as saying, “At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression for every visitor every time.”
It appears that Kreeger’s words were heeded and, as of January of 2019, passport holders of these nations will now be permitted swift processing via LHR’s eGates, something only previously allowed for European visitors.