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UK Airports Contemplate Premium Passport Fees to Combat Long Lines

UK Airports Contemplate Premium Passport Fees to Combat Long Lines
Jackie Reddy

With wait times soaring at the nation’s passport control booths, officials believe that these fees could be just the ticket to speed things along.

Money may not be the answer to everything, but for those suffering through long passport control lines at Britain’s airports, a little cash could go a long way toward speeding up the process of entering the United Kingdom.

In August, it was revealed that Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is preparing to levy a fee of approximately £5 ($6.67) to allow inbound travelers to skip lengthy passport control lines. The idea was that a premium charge could be used to cut wait times at EDI, but it appears that this initiative could have a wider appeal.

Reports from both the Daily Mail and the Mirror hint that similar programs could be rolled out at every airport around the country. While any initiatives would have the backing of the UK’s Home Office, the body responsible for managing immigration into the country, the plans have received criticism from both labor bodies as well as the general public.

The Daily Mail quoted one Twitter user as saying, “So £50 ($66.67) a day to park your car, £5 ($6.67) to jump the queue. What next? £1 ($1.33) to use toilet hand dryers?”

Airport workers have also protested against the plans, citing low staffing levels and long lines as an issue to be dealt with seriously rather than a matter to be remedied with what they perceive to be a ploy.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, a spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCSU), the body representing Britain’s government workers, said, “Instead of gimmicks like this the Government needs to properly invest in staff to work at ports and airports because the shortages are there for all to see.”

Mark Gribbin, national chairman of the Union for Borders, Immigration & Customs, confirmed to the paper that staff shortages were an issue and added that, “Managers are under severe pressure to contain queues (lines), creating still more pressure for frontline staff.”

However, for some in this line-loving nation, this very concept is, quite simply, unthinkable. One member of the public, Kenny Farquharson, told the paper that it, “…simply isn’t British. Wrong, wrong, wrong.”

[Photo: Twitter/@CharlotteRose_2]

View Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. dogcanyon

    September 12, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    The UK has an Air Passenger Duty that is already one of the highest in the world. Where is that money going? Just one more reason to avoid Ripoff Britain.

  2. TheRealBabushka

    September 12, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Perhaps the UK government should consider a US pre-clearance style system, where the cost of headcount (main cost associated with border control) is charged to the airports and airlines that want to offer direct services to the UK. This cost can then be factored by the airline into the price of the flights/service.

    So politically, back home, there will not be any backlash that the responsible government department is not pulling its weights behind austerity and, the unions supporting immigration staff are able to save face through sustained headcount/man-hours.

    Any mechanism for reducing demand for immigration staff, can then be tied to the third country or airline who has chosen to reduce direct flights to London (flight becomes more expensive due to added overheads, resulting in reduced demand). Again the government is able to contend that such cuts are not its doing.

  3. Dschaimz

    September 13, 2016 at 12:08 am

    I would happily pay 5GBP to skip a long line. I regularly use the Al Maha, Marhaba and similar services in the middle east and I am very happy with them.

  4. Sydneyberlin

    September 13, 2016 at 2:42 am

    This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, only nasty stuff coming from those Brexiters. Yet another reason to avoid this cold rainy rock in the Atlantic at all cost!

  5. cynosura

    September 13, 2016 at 2:56 am

    So they have the Air Passenger duty which raises over £3 billion in revenue per year to “make passengers think twice about flying” or for “environmental” reasons, and now they want more. Is it ever enough?

    Busy airports need to be properly staffed. I know that since TSA came on the scene in the USA I have seen no correlation between the money thrown at the program and “speeding things along. Just more government bureaucrats trying to get their hands on consumers’ money.

  6. UncleDude

    September 14, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Something is seriously wrong when as a UK Citizen I can be through USA Immigration and Customs with Carry-on in Under 6 minutes thanks to Global Entry. Plus on leaving, known Traveler gives me fast-Track Security on departure.

    Meanwhile my last farce track at T3 Manchester took almost 1 Hours to clear Security

    Just a few years ago waits of up to an hour were the USA Norm. Come on UK get some automation and effective systems in place NOT introducing rip off fees.

  7. FlyingNone

    September 21, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    As already said, just another reason to avoid UK Airports – the taxes are higher than some airfares; ridiculous.

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