REUTERS

Lengthy waits at customs cause concern as Olympic-related traffic begins.

Not long after Heathrow Airport (LHR) unveiled a giant set of Olympic Rings in its Terminal 5, officials and passengers became skeptical once more of the airport's ability to handle incoming traffic for the Olympics.

While this weekend's issues at Heathrow were not quite bad as what occurred earlier this year (a shortage of staff led to many travelers being unable to clear immigration before public transportation stopped running for the night, forcing airlines to order taxis for them), a series of reports over the weekend cited unoccupied stations, waiting times that reached 90 minutes, and some passengers claiming to have waited two and a half hours.

Olympics 2012 bug
London gets ready for the Summer Games See full coverage

BAA, the organization responsible for operating Heathrow, has a set target time for customs clearance: 25 minutes for those with U.K. and EU passports and 45 minutes for everyone else. With national delegations and athletes starting to arrive for the games, those time targets are beginning to be tested. Last Friday, passengers arriving through Terminal 4 were stuck in lines that were as long as half a mile, according to the Telegraph. Some travelers were unable to use the E-Passport lines or Iris, the airport's eye-recognition system.

BAA told the BBC that the Home Office (the U.K.'s department for immigration) will man all Border Force (part of Home Office) desks during peak Olympics arrival times starting July 15. Further assisting traffic for the Games, 1,000 volunteers will be located around the airport to help incoming athletes. A series of pink accreditation desks for Olympics travelers have been placed throughout the airport as well. Once accredited however, the athletes will still have to go through a standard customs procedure. 

More than half a million extra passengers are expected to travel through Heathrow during the Olympics.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a rendering of the moon village with a view of Earth
    Design

    Designing the First Full-Time Human Habitat on the Moon

    SOM, in partnership with the ESA and MIT, wants to accommodate research and maybe even tourism on the moon.

  2. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  3. A photo of couples dancing in a park.
    Life

    The Geography of Online Dating

    When looking for love, most people don’t look far from home. That's what a big-data analysis of interactions on a dating site revealed.

  4. Tech workers sit around a table on their laptops in San Francisco, California
    Life

    America’s Tech Hubs Still Dominate, But Some Smaller Cities Are Rising

    Despite established urban tech hubs, some smaller cities are attracting high-tech jobs with lower living costs, unique talent pools, and geographic diversity.

  5. a photo of a Metro PCS store in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    What D.C.’s Go-Go Showdown Reveals About Gentrification

    A neighborhood debate over music swiftly became something bigger, and louder: a cry for self-determination from a community that is struggling to be heard.