UK invites more to passport fast lane

 

Under plans announced this week by Britain's Treasury chief, travelers arriving from the U.S., Canada, Austrialia, New Zealand and Japan will be able to use the self-service 'e-passport' gates at British airports, speeding up entry.

The program allows passengers with the e-passport symbol, above, to scan their passports, smile at the camera and walk through the border gate—if their faces match the on-line image connected to the passport picture. Up to now, only holders of UK and EU passports have been able to use the gates.

The new invitees will be able to use the system starting by this summer, possibly as early as March. The UK already has 259 of the special gates in use at 14 airports, and is planning to add more, as well as more manned lanes, to deal with long lines on arrival.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Well ... my local airport is Cardiff and they took out all the machines several months ago - because they simply weren't working properly. My recent experiences at other UK airports (e.g. Heathrow) are precisely along the lines of my comment. It can be a lot faster to join the queue at the manned desks - you might end up at one anyway.

All of these new technologies seem to have many glitches. In August, at Rome, we were invited to use the e-passport machines; my passport worked, and my wife's didn't—and staff seemed unsure what to do.

On the other hand, we have been U.S. Global Entry members for about five years and twenty or so trips; it's never worked for me and only once for my wife. On the other hand, the Mobile Passport App (free, no sign-up) works like a charm.

In the light of all this, last week's TG News piece about a major biometric upgrade at Heathrow may raise more warning flags than hopes!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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