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Being forced to use the ePassport gates at T5?

Being forced to use the ePassport gates at T5?

Old Jun 26, 17, 4:21 am
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Being forced to use the ePassport gates at T5?

I recently became an EU national, and started using the EU passport channels at Heathrow T5, as well as other terminals and UK airports. I've noticed that they lay out the tensa barriers to almost force you to use the ePassport gates. How long has it been like this? I almost prefer using the manual desks because it seems quicker, but the people in purple seem to insist you use the ePassport gates.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:27 am
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The barriers have been like this almost since the new e-passport gates were introduced which must be something like 2 years ago. I don't find the e-passport gate route slow so I can't imagine the manual desks would be quicker.

Have a try of the e-passport gates and see what you think in terms of speed.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:33 am
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I've done a time comparison previously (pick distinctive clothing going down the manual line ahead of me). Unless the manual queue is very short or the egates is exceptionally long - the egates are always faster.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:42 am
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I saw some stats for the Border Force at T5, and from memory e-gates are faster by a factor of nearly two, or a whisker under. Manual processing includes children, for whom there are trafficking checks, and European ID cards. Italian ID cards have to be typed out in full, they are not machine readable, and then echoed back, this alone takes a lot of time. You can appreciate it's not a good use of resources if e-passport users take up the available (wo)manpower.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:25 am
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I read some time ago that passengers wanted speed and overall that's what the e-Passport gates generally deliver. Lines can build up but it does flow in my experiences. The same is true of the returning Esta process in the US which really is a lot better.

Not sure why you'd want a return to the pre digital age passport queues personally but self service is the way forwards so best if you embrace it.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:25 am
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I actually had a protracted 5 minute argument with the member of staff 'guarding' the manual channel on Saturday night who refused to allow me (UK Passport) and my wife (non-EU passport) to use the manual UK citizens channel.

Given that border force have actively encouraged us to use that line as the optimal path when travelling together, having to explain this several times in detail to somebody who's vocabulary seemed to consist entirely of 'EU identity cards only' was not what I needed at 10pm. Eventually their supervisor intervened and confirmed that we should indeed be allowed in.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:26 am
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In answer to the OP I think it has been like this for a while, and it's advisable to go for e-gates where possible for precisely the reasons stated above. My last few e-passport experiences at T5 and T3 have been very quick indeed, although I have been actively avoiding arriving into T5 late, which was the source of a lot of my misery in previous years. Yesterday I was in T3 at around 21:15 and there was no queue at all for the e gates and I was through in seconds- simply cannot beat that (if only the walks in T3 weren't so long). That said, the non EU queue looked pretty horrific. I suppose that is reflective of the large amount of transcon traffic.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:28 am
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Originally Posted by kaizenflying View Post
I read some time ago that passengers wanted speed and overall that's what the e-Passport gates generally deliver. Lines can build up but it does flow in my experiences. The same is true of the returning Esta process in the US which really is a lot better.

Not sure why you'd want a return to the pre digital age passport queues personally but self service is the way forwards so best if you embrace it.
I fully embrace it when travelling alone (and GE in the US is even better) but forcing people who are clearly uncomfortable with the machines and have no idea how to use them to go through that flow is really quite pointless. Let them queue for 45 minutes if they feel the need and I'm sure some will voluntarily use the machines next time.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:34 am
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Those dodgy EU ID cards such as the Italian and Greek ones are far too easy to forge. The Greek ID card is basically a laminated piece of paper!

They should force them to upgrade to biometric, or make them bring their passports!

I have some Greek friends who just fly with their passport to the UK in order to use the E-Gates.

Mind you last time I used the E-Gates in LHR T5 it said 'seek assistance!'.
Maybe I put it in the e-reader too quickly. Luckily there is always a border force member to help you out and deal with it.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:48 am
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I have never managed to get through the automatic gates, probably in a dozen plus attempts. My passport was issued only in 2016 and is not damaged or worn. My wife has no problems with them and thinks it's hilarious watching me struggle and eventually get re-routed.

It can be irritating to see a couple of immigration officers sitting with nothing to do while I queue for the machines, but I've given up trying to access them as first choice as that lane is usually closely guarded and the argument is not worth the hassle.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 6:05 am
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Originally Posted by LSunbury View Post
I have never managed to get through the automatic gates, probably in a dozen plus attempts. My passport was issued only in 2016 and is not damaged or worn. My wife has no problems with them and thinks it's hilarious watching me struggle and eventually get re-routed.

It can be irritating to see a couple of immigration officers sitting with nothing to do while I queue for the machines, but I've given up trying to access them as first choice as that lane is usually closely guarded and the argument is not worth the hassle.
I can offer a couple of tips because my passport is also a 2016 issue. There's something up with the passport page that means it rides back on itself as you try to put it flat in the machine.

As you put it - grab both sides of it near the middle of the passport, but hold tight to the page with the photo. As you slide it in - take one hand off and push with that hand - keep holding with the other until you can't hold it any further, then finally push forward. It'll help stop the page rolling back.

You can tell I've developed a fine technique with this.

The issue seems to be that the machine readable bit at the bottom can move out of range of the scanner, or get twisted somehow so it doesn't read it. I have less of a problem with the egates than I do with the US border machines (both GE and ESTA) - but it does happen.

My kids' passport (issued a few months after) doesn't have this problem, so I think it's a certain batch/design had it.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 6:12 am
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Originally Posted by MPH1980 View Post
I can offer a couple of tips because my passport is also a 2016 issue. There's something up with the passport page that means it rides back on itself as you try to put it flat in the machine.

As you put it - grab both sides of it near the middle of the passport, but hold tight to the page with the photo. As you slide it in - take one hand off and push with that hand - keep holding with the other until you can't hold it any further, then finally push forward. It'll help stop the page rolling back.

You can tell I've developed a fine technique with this.

The issue seems to be that the machine readable bit at the bottom can move out of range of the scanner, or get twisted somehow so it doesn't read it. I have less of a problem with the egates than I do with the US border machines (both GE and ESTA) - but it does happen.

My kids' passport (issued a few months after) doesn't have this problem, so I think it's a certain batch/design had it.
Thanks for that! I have the 2016 passport as well, so must be the new soft page. I will try this next time.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 6:26 am
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Originally Posted by LSunbury View Post
I have never managed to get through the automatic gates, probably in a dozen plus attempts. My passport was issued only in 2016 and is not damaged or worn. My wife has no problems with them and thinks it's hilarious watching me struggle and eventually get re-routed.
Being rejected by the e-gates is my reminder that it's time for a Botox top-up.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 6:31 am
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People who refuse to use the e-passport gates remind me of the folks at Tesco who refuse to use the self-checkout because 'the line is longer' even though it's still faster pretty much 95% of the time.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 6:35 am
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I think the gates are a lot faster, however most of my flights are into T3, and I'm getting increasingly tired of there being only 4 or 5 gates open and a huge queue forming, particularly if you come in behind an EK flight.

Frustrating to wait there for up to 30 mins with 10 machines closed, and it seems to be becoming more frequent.
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