Long waits at East Midlands Airport as passport e-gates go down

Exterior general view of East Midlands Airport departure terminal
East Midlands Airport is one of 15 air and rail ports nationwide that uses eGate technology -Credit:Leicester Mercury / Chris Gordon

Long waits have been reported at airports across the country after an issue with electronic passport gates. Photographs show huge queues forming at border control in Manchester and Heathrow as passengers look to get into the UK.

The issue is also affecting East Midlands Airport, Nottingham's closest major airport. EMA acknowledged the issue at 9.15pm on Tuesday (May 7) with a message online which was also posted on X, formerly Twitter.

It said: "UK Border Force is experiencing nationwide issues affecting eGates at a number of airports, including East Midlands. Our teams are supporting UK Border Force staff to minimise disruption to passengers while they fix the problem. We apologise for any inconvenience caused during this time and thank you for your patience and understanding."

So far, no comments online appear to have alluded to the issue at EMA. But Heathrow and Manchester are both significantly affected, with photographs on social media from people in the queues showing "hundreds" of people waiting with no idea of any resolution.

The incidents were first reported at around 8.30pm this evening. Border Force have yet to comment on what is causing the problem or how it will be resolved.

E-gates are in force at just 15 air and rail ports in the UK, the government website says. There are 270 of them altogether. They work with modern biometric passports by using facial recognition technology to check a person's identity against the photo in their passport.

Since their introduction, they have streamlined passport checks and arrivals into countries. But this is not the first time problems have been reported with them - they failed just two weeks ago around April 25 and on May 27 last year, similar nationwide problems were reported.