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Chaos at Heathrow as hundreds of travellers are forced to pack into huge queues

Chaotic scenes broke out at Heathrow’s border gates today as hundreds of passengers were crammed into queues after just three officers were left to check passports.

The travellers, many with young families, even chanted ‘we want more staff’ as the lines in the ‘poorly ventilated’ room stretched for at least an hour.

Heathrow Airport branded the situation ‘totally unacceptable’, but left were powerless because the gates are controlled by UK Border Force.

Natalie Crane, 32, from Surrey, had arrived back from a holiday to Majorca with her husband, mother, and three young children when she was faced with a two-hour delay.

Chaotic scenes broke out at Heathrow's border gates today as hundreds of passengers were crammed into queues after just three officers were left to check passports

Chaotic scenes broke out at Heathrow’s border gates today as hundreds of passengers were crammed into queues after just three officers were left to check passports

She said: ‘We queued with about 500 or 600 people; there was no social distancing, no ventilation – it would have been impossible to socially distance that many people in the room. It was just barbaric.

While the central London airport’s self service E-gates were operating, Natalie and dozens of other parents couldn’t use them because of age restrictions on children, and had to see a border officer.

‘After a while we found out there is only three people on the counters checking passports, so then everyone started chanting get more staff get more staff, this a disgrace. 10 minutes later all of a sudden you’ve got about 10 staff on. 

‘When we complained to one of the staff on the counters because he wasn’t making people aware he was available, his response was “don’t go on holiday”.’ 

The travellers, many with young families, even chanted 'we want more staff' as the lines in the 'poorly ventilated' room stretched for at least an hour

The travellers, many with young families, even chanted ‘we want more staff’ as the lines in the ‘poorly ventilated’ room stretched for at least an hour

‘There was no compassion from the staff whatsoever.’ 

A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport told MailOnline that the queues were ‘totally unacceptable’, but that Border Force have forecasting systems to help avoid passenger queues on arrival.

MailOnline have approached the Home Office for comment.

The experience added insult to injury for the family of five, after they fell victim to the government’s quarantine rule change.

‘We went last Saturday, so the evening we arrived we found out that Spain was being taken off the list and that the Balearics and canaries were not going to be exempt.

Heathrow Airport branded the situation 'totally unacceptable', but left were powerless because the gates are controlled by UK Border Force

Heathrow Airport branded the situation ‘totally unacceptable’, but left were powerless because the gates are controlled by UK Border Force

‘I can’t say it ruined the holiday because once we were there we knew we had to try and enjoy it. But it was disheartening, especially when you’ve got your children with you as well.

‘I think I would’ve been more understanding if I was in one of the areas of Spain with the highest cases, but I’m on the island of Majorca.’ 

All flights at Heathrow are currently operating from Terminals 2 and 5 following the temporary relocation of airlines from Terminals 3 and 4. 

Heathrow are expecting 280 plane arrivals across the two terminals today.

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