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British Airways

British Airways’ CEO Alex Cruz Calls Heathrow’s Passport Waiting Times a “Farce”

British Airways’ CEO Alex Cruz Calls Heathrow’s Passport Waiting Times a “Farce”
Jackie Reddy

Alex Cruz, BA’s chief executive, has taken London’s Heathrow Airport to task over the lengthy waiting times experienced by non-EEA nationals. In a letter published in The Times on Monday, Cruz called the situation at LHR a “farce” and asked the UK’s Home Secretary to step in to resolve the problem.

Alex Cruz, British Airways‘ chief executive, has criticized the lengthy passport lines at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), Reuters reports. His comments were made in a letter to The Times, which was published on Monday.

He stated that the current situation at LHR is not acceptable and must improve, especially in the light of Britain’s imminent exit from the European Union (EU). In his letter, Cruz added that the lines and wait times at LHR are noticeably longer than those experienced at other airports around the world.

According to current statistics as released by the Airports Council International, LHR is Europe’s busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers.

He was also quick to note that these two-hour long lines have become normalized for arriving passengers who are not citizens of a European Economic Area (EEA) member state. Cruz added that the current target for waiting times for those coming from outside of the EEA is just 45 minutes.

Cruz also implored Sajid Javid, the UK’s Home Secretary, to do everything in his power to swiftly halt what Cruz was quoted by Reuters as calling “this border farce”.

Commenting on the situation at LHR as a whole, Cruz wrote, “What kind of message does this send, as we try to build links outside the EU?”.

Javid has not offered comment, but according to The Telegraph, Cruz’s letter was published amid, “…reports that Britain was considering setting up designated lanes for British passport holders at UK airports after Britain leaves the EU on March 29 next year.”

View Comments (16)


  1. sfoeuroflyer

    August 7, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    45 minutes a “target”. That’s like saying shooting 200 in golf or running a 60 minute mile are targets. Pathetic.

  2. daniellam

    August 7, 2018 at 6:59 pm

    Perhaps they should do what Canada does and install automated kiosks for citizens of low-risk countries to answer customs/immigration questions, take a picture of themselve, print a receipt and then go see an officer.

  3. corbetti

    August 7, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Pretty sure my aging mother can do a 60 minute mile, lol

  4. amanuensis


    August 7, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    I think a 60-minute mile sounds just about doable for me.

  5. garygleck

    August 8, 2018 at 7:15 am

    You could add the rudeness of the workers once you get to the passport window….

  6. Xnuiem

    August 8, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Agreed. in the last couple of years, I have entered via FRA, MUC, PRG, LHR, DUB, CDG, AMS, and MAD. LHR’s passport takes longer, as a US citizen than any of the others. In fact, I can probably accurately state that I can enter via FRA or PRG 12 times, or more, faster than I can enter once via LHR.

    It is all the questions. LHR asks lots of questions and probes about my trip, even when they are 24 hour stays as I pass through. None of the other countries do. Look at my passport, look at me. Move along.

  7. rjlon

    August 9, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Terminal 5 was as usual designed to be the most modern terminal and everything was done to meet BA’s requests. The other terminals are much quicker so better of flying a carrier that flies into 2 o3. Terminal 4 can be slow at Baggage reclaim.
    Some BA flights use Terminal 3 but the BA website always suggests you change to flights using their T5.

  8. JTXC

    August 9, 2018 at 6:12 am

    This must be hurting BA, since it discourages people like myself from using LHR as a hub. Last time it was nearly a hour at T5 fast track! I have a lot of European travel coming up over the next 2-3 years, and I am actually considering avoiding BA/LHR.

  9. sabbasolo

    August 9, 2018 at 6:28 am

    Yeah, really bad, but of course the USA is worse in many cases.

  10. randysea

    August 9, 2018 at 8:17 am

    A few years ago I was taking the Eurostar from Paris to London, with a US passport. Silly me, I thought it would be as easy as Paris to, say, Spain, Belgium, Germany, etc.

    You clear British immigration at the train station in Paris. You fill out a little form that asks, among other things, where you are staying in the UK. I was being met at the London station by British friends. I didn’t know their home address. That doomed me.

    I could have written down “Hilton Hotel Convent Garden” . and been through in a flash. I probably even could have said “Trafalgar Sq Hilton” (which I don’t think exists any more) .and would have been golden. It’s what any self-respecting terrorist would have done. But no, I was just an honest tourist, prime target for immigration scrutiny.

    Luckily, I had my friends’ mobile numbers. I got their address that way. With that, and another 10 minutes of questioning (“how long have you known them where did you meet, etc.), i just made it on to the train in time.

  11. wdchuck1

    August 9, 2018 at 8:21 am

    LHR is an embarassment

    i was there a few weeks ago and at 10PM SHARP they closed the “FAST LANE” = then at 11, 5 agents went off-duty leaving 3 agents to handle over 500 people

    1 3/’4 hours is insane and just rude

    Flight connections is just as bad

    Bottom line, Never Again for me -into LHR or connecting

    Also, the cruise lines and other tour operators who use LHR as an option as transfer point for travelers for US people are now warning against this transfer

    not that anyone there cares

  12. bobbysfca

    August 9, 2018 at 9:01 am

    I’ve known this or ages now, and will always buy a higher priced ticket to avoid landing or connecting at LHR. World’s worst.

  13. KRSW

    August 9, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I’ve not been through LHR in years, but my trips through LGW’s immigration have been reasonably quick. The US can be hit-or-miss.

  14. kiowavt

    August 9, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with him. 2 hours last visit. Not fun.

  15. cavemanzk

    August 10, 2018 at 2:43 am

    Maybe other counties that allow UK passport holders to use there automated processing should remove UK Passports from there scheme, until the UK offers to provide the same service to nationals of that country?

    For example NZ/AU allow British passport holds access to the automated que, yet entering the UK they don’t.

  16. jamar

    August 11, 2018 at 9:40 am


    No, it really isn’t. I’ve arrived into both T2 and T3 and have never had a wait shorter than an hour. It was bad enough that on my last trip to London I specifically sought out an itinerary that would get me into LCY instead. It still took 20 minutes, but that was better than an hour.

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