Monday, May 27

‘No Malicious Activity Found’: UK Airports Face Chaos As IT Systems Crash Nationwide

Edited by Aishwarya Krishnan

A widespread technical glitch in the United Kingdom’s border control systems caused chaos at airports across the nation on Wednesday. The outage, which affected the country’s main Border Crossing security database, resulted in lengthy queues, delays, and disrupted operations at the airport.

Acknowledging the technical outage, the UK Home Office stated that border security was not compromised and there was no indication of malicious cyber activity. Major airports like Heathrow and Stansted confirmed that the outage had been resolved and that all border control systems were running as usual.

The malfunction led to the shutdown of e-gates, essential for speeding up passenger processing, as they were unable to access vital IT infrastructure. Consequently, Border Force officers had to resort to manual checks against backup databases, severely impacting the efficiency of border control operations, reports said.

Images shared on social media platforms depicted scenes of endless queues through major airports such as Stansted, Heathrow, Luton, Gatwick, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Travelers were left stranded in corridors and arrival halls, facing extensive delays in passport verification. According to a BBC report, the issues lasted for over four hours, leaving passengers stranded.

E-gates, which use facial recognition for identity checks and expedited entry into the country, were also impacted by the system failure. Passengers faced manual processing instead, leading to extended wait times and congestion at immigration checkpoints.

Passengers affected by the recent border control system outage expressed frustration over the delays, with some reporting wait times of up to 90 minutes for passport control. Airport authorities assured passengers that operations were back to normal, with flights departing and arriving on time post-resolution of the technical issues.

Notably, this is not the first time the UK’s automated e-gates have experienced such issues. In May 2023, airports were impacted by an IT issue affecting e-gates. Similarly, in August last year, around 2,000 flights were canceled following a system failure in processing flight plans by the National Air Traffic Services.