LHR border queues query

Old Jan 20, 2024, 4:01 am
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LHR border queues query

I was thinking of visiting the UK in June with my partner who has a Philippines passport. A work colleague of mine flew in to LHR T3 last month with Emirates and said that it took almost four hours for their family to clear the UKBA due to huge queues, is it a similar story when flying in to T5 with BA?

I’m a British passport holder so am a bit clueless about turning right in to T5 immigration rather than turning left, and if the queues are humongous in size then would consider getting a stopover somewhere en route from DXB so that we could fly in to LCY instead (for example every time I’ve flown FRA-LCY immigration was empty).
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 4:03 am
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Iíve certainly seen some massive queues at the T5 border for those having to have manual passport checks - especially when 2-3 flight arrive at once. Admittedly mostly early morning but also on Sundays for some reason.

I seem to remember thinking thank god I can use the E-gate.

itís hard to say how busy it will be as it depends on the flights arriving as well as the destination from where.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 4:05 am
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It can be quite variable depending on the time of day and day of week and season, but generally T5 isn't too bad. If your partner lives with you, then you can both use the UK/EU/EEA desks (but not the eGates) to enter.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 4:12 am
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Originally Posted by Genius1
It can be quite variable depending on the time of day and day of week and season, but generally T5 isn't too bad. If your partner lives with you, then you can both use the UK/EU/EEA desks (but not the eGates) to enter.
Now that is interesting, I did not know that - to be honest, I also canít even remember non-eGates for UK besides the desk behind the eGates for when the eGate decides to reject the passport. Yes we live at the same address, although the place is rented in my name but I guess we can use things like our separate bank statements to show our address is the same.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 4:14 am
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Originally Posted by Mackle
I was thinking of visiting the UK in June with my partner who has a Philippines passport. A work colleague of mine flew in to LHR T3 last month with Emirates and said that it took almost four hours for their family to clear the UKBA due to huge queues, is it a similar story when flying in to T5 with BA?

Iím a British passport holder so am a bit clueless about turning right in to T5 immigration rather than turning left, and if the queues are humongous in size then would consider getting a stopover somewhere en route from DXB so that we could fly in to LCY instead (for example every time Iíve flown FRA-LCY immigration was empty).
i often fly into T3 late on a Friday evening, around 22:30. Sometimes i can see the 'manual' queue is huge, on other occsssions it is empty.

It is very unpredictable at any terminal, depending on what aircraft have landed when
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 4:57 am
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I'd suggest flying into LCY to take the risk out - so something like DXB-AMS-LCY. Connecting is annoying, but it beats the risk of standing in a queue for 4 hours.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 6:17 am
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Originally Posted by cauchy
I'd suggest flying into LCY to take the risk out - so something like DXB-AMS-LCY. Connecting is annoying, but it beats the risk of standing in a queue for 4 hours.
DXB-FRA-LCY with LH has a £70 premium over BA (at least for WTP/PremiumEc) and only adds 90 minutes over the DXB-LHR time. From what I recall the DXB-LHR flight passes pretty close to (or maybe even through) FRA airspace anyway.

AF via CDG is similar in price to BA direct, and KLM via AMS is a couple of hundred quid more.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 6:29 am
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As already mentioned, if you regard the other person as your partner then you should use the UK queue anyway, and if there are jointly parented children under 18 years old involved then you all really must use the UK queue.

But leaving that to one side, the only area where T5 passport queues sometimes has issues is the NEEA queue (Not European Economic Area). I can't really see a pattern to it, so I suspect it's more about local staffing, school holidays, flu/covid outbreaks. Other terminals have much worse figures than T5, in their cases due to the way that flights from certain geographies all seem to land at once. In the last week - so a quiet time for travelling - only on Friday did T5 register as overloaded, with 50 minute delays at 18:45 hrs and then 70 minutes at 19:20 hrs . By 20:30 that queue was below 45 minutes, which is the service level for NEEA. That was the only incident in over a week as far as I can tell, there was a peak expected the previous Friday evening but it didn't materialise. Now I don't think waiting 45 minutes is acceptable, it should be below 20 minutes in my view, but nevertheless depending on the date of travel I would not see a risk of 4 hours as something you need to plan around, it's just so unlikely at T5.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 6:32 am
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We try to sit toward the front of the plane, at the front of the transit train and walk briskly to immigration to try and minimise queues. They can quickly build up. Generally though we have not had to wait more than 15 minutes though.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 6:35 am
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Originally Posted by cauchy
I'd suggest flying into LCY to take the risk out - so something like DXB-AMS-LCY. Connecting is annoying, but it beats the risk of standing in a queue for 4 hours.
I really don't think it does. I doubt there's a high likelihood of a 4-hour wait, the average is certainly way less than that. By contrast connecting adds a minimum couple of hours guaranteed, if not more. Plus you still have to clear passports at LCY even if that's relatively quicker than LHR. And more risk of weather disruption to LCY flights than EK's flights to LHR.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 6:53 am
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As a data point, and I am sure this is a unicorn exception as I had never experienced anything close to this before in about 30 years of flying into the UK, yesterday evening at T5, touch down around 21:10, one of the first three out of the door, fast walked to passport control and was the very first there, no queue anywhere/ apparently no other recent flight arrival, collected 1 large bag from the carousel (priority tagged and one of first 4/5 to arrive after pushchairs and car seats), I was on the Piccadilly line platform at 21:33Ö
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by Mackle
I also can’t even remember non-eGates for UK besides the desk behind the eGates for when the eGate decides to reject the passport.
There are dedicated desks for those unable to use eGates, such as children, but whose nationality would otherwise permit them to use eGates. You and your partner can use those desks too.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by Genius1
There are dedicated desks for those unable to use eGates, such as children, but whose nationality would otherwise permit them to use eGates. You and your partner can use those desks too.
Iím a semi-regular user, when flying with my little ones, who are too young for e-gates. Iíve never waited more than 10 minutes. Usually a lot quicker. Same at Gatwick.

I wouldnít imagine they would get into asking for evidence/bank statements etc. That said I donít think it be advisable for anyone to pretend to be a couple just to use the UK/EEA queue.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 10:06 am
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I never know long the queues will be. I travel with a Canadian passport and usually use the E gates. I have seen massive queues at Immigration but my last trip the E gates had queues while the immigration officers were waiting for passengers. Went from my seat on the plane to the Heathrow express in seven minutes.
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Old Jan 20, 2024, 11:18 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1
I really don't think it does. I doubt there's a high likelihood of a 4-hour wait, the average is certainly way less than that. By contrast connecting adds a minimum couple of hours guaranteed, if not more. Plus you still have to clear passports at LCY even if that's relatively quicker than LHR. And more risk of weather disruption to LCY flights than EK's flights to LHR.
Terminal 3 consistently misses its immigration queue targets, looks worse than the other terminals (see official statistics).

Also, if youíre last off an EK flight you could easily have 300+ passengers from
the same flight as you, in front of you at the immigration queue.
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