PASSENGERS heading abroad on holiday this summer could face queues as long as seven hours due to travel checks and Covid restrictions.
Aviation experts have warned that the closure of e-passport gates as well as Passenger Locator Forms and Covid test checks could result in chaos when travel abroad resumes.
Border Force are currently having to check all of the restrictions manually which includes the mandatory form, negative test as well as whether the passenger has booked their hotel quarantine if required.
Lucy Moreton from the Immigration Services Union, said: “If they don’t digitise the e-gates and they still require us to do 100 per cent checks, then yes the queues could potentially at busy times become even worse than they are now.
“Six or seven hours is not impossible.”
CEO of Airlines UK Tim Alderslade added: “Manual checks are time-consuming and will become increasingly challenging as passenger numbers increase, as we hope they will. This is why a fully digitalised passenger locator form is the way to go.”
Last month, cricket star Kevin Pietersen blasted chaotic scenes at Heathrow Airport after he was left queuing for over three hours.
In January, huge queues at the airport resulted in social distancing problems with one passenger saying it was “horrific”.
It is hoped that Passenger Locator Forms could be digitised for the summer, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, allowing passengers to travel through e-passport gates.
Holidays abroad are yet to be given an official date as to when they will go ahead although it is hoped some destinations could open to Brits from next month.
A new traffic light system will also be introduced to allow a holiday abroad to go ahead.
In the case of “green” countries passengers can travel and return home without having to quarantine but will need to have a negative test to come back into the UK — it is anticipated the cheaper lateral- flow tests will be acceptable — and then take a PCR test within two days of returning.
“Amber” countries will involve spending ten days in quarantine as well as a lateral-flow test to get back into the country and two PCR tests, on days two and eight.
“Red” countries will mean a ten-day stay in managed hotel quarantine, with a test before returning and tests on days two and eight. It currently costs £1,750 per person for hotel quarantine.
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Other countries may have their own restrictions on arrival as well such as negative tests or quarantines.
Countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus are all pushing for vaccine passports to allow restriction-free travel to the country.
However, the UK is seeing a staycation booking boom for this summer as nervous families opt for a domestic holiday instead this year.
Many popular destinations such as Cornwall have warned they are selling out of properties for the popular summer season, with some people even being put on waitlists.