May bank holiday weekend saw intolerably long queues at Stansted for disgruntled passengers arriving back into the UK. Despite the escalating issue and lack of staff, BAA is insisting they will not cut corners.
Following the issue of long queues at Heathrow recently, Stansted seems to have fallen into the same pattern with queues of up to 2 hours. With passengers arriving at a rate of one per second during peak time (between 10pm and midnight), airport management have said the conditions are "unacceptable."
Jacqui Smith, former Home Secretary, speaks out about this, blaming the current Home Secretary for her decision to cut 1500 border staff. She claims that no proper planning was put in place to deal with this loss of personnel resulting in the 2 hour delays spreading from Heathrow to Stansted. Not only is this bad for travellers, it is also detrimental to security procedures.
Border staff are worried about the state of affairs at UK Border Control, and Ms Smith reports that "They’re under pressure from their managers not to do the full checks on them, because of the length of the queue." Teresa May, current home secretary, has been forced to investigate this on the ground.
Despite recognising the issue behind the lengthy queues, the UK Border Agency is immovable in demanding that security not be relaxed: "We will not compromise border security but work closely with airport operators to keep delays to a minimum." However, it has been suggested that a lighter touch on low threat flights may be deployed following collaborative discussions between border control and airport management.
A spokesman for Stansted airport said: "We recognise there needs to be a strong border but we also want to make sure that border staff have the right resources to meet passenger demand. […] We will be talking to the UK Border Force about the queues and the reasons behind them."
BAA’s current quick fix to the issue gives the opportunity to cut queues for an extortionate price of £300 per passenger. Access to the Windsor Suite is also being sold at £1800 for up to 6 passengers per flight, giving an extra opportunity to cut queues. Those passengers without the money still have to pay the price of staff cut backs.
If you’ve been affected by Stansted Airport queues, let us know your experience in the comments below.