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. Design

    The Problem With 'Fast-Casual Architecture'

    Washington, D.C., has a huge new waterfront development that’s fun, popular, and easy on the eyes. Is anything wrong with that?

  2. A man walks his bicycle beside a train in Paris.
    Maps

    Breaking Down the Many Ways Europe's City-Dwellers Get to Work

    One chart shows which cities do best when it comes to biking, walking, or taking public transit to work.

  3. Equity

    How a Fart Became Berlin's Weirdest Policing Scandal

    It's taken an incredible amount of resources to get to the bottom of this one.

  4. Maps

    Mapping Where Europe's Population Is Moving, Aging, and Finding Work

    Younger people are fleeing rural areas, migrating northward, and having fewer children. Here’s how that’s changing the region.

  5. Design

    Experimental City: The Sci-Fi Utopia That Never Was

    With solar energy, recycling, computers, and personal mass transit, the 1960s-era Minnesota Experimental City was a prescient and hopeful vision of the urban future. A new documentary tells its story.