If you’re standing in line at an ePassport gate next year then you might hear an Australian accent. Or a Canadian one. Or even an American one. No, you won’t be queuing in the wrong place, it’s just that HM Government has decided to open these gates to eligible travellers from these countries, plus Japan and New Zealand too.
These inbound travellers will be able to access 250 ePassport gates at 14 airports as well as the Eurostar Terminals at Brussels and Paris. And if they do qualify, they’ll be amongst the estimated six million international travellers who won’t then have to queue at the notoriously slow security decks manned by the UK Border Force that offer such a poor welcome to the country. The current waiting record stands at two hours and 36 minutes which was set on a day in July. (‘Welcome to Britain where our national pastime is queuing; now get back in line’).
Nationals from these five new countries – incidentally called the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance – will join travellers from the European Economic Area as well as Switzerland that will be eligible to use the gates.
That’s if they can find one that’s open, as this is another national pastime, spot the e-Passport gate that’s working. The government insists that this technology works and that most gates remain open. That’s not what most users would say (in any language).