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'Utter chaos': Passengers complain of delays after airport e-gates stop working nationwide

There have been long queues and "scenes of utter chaos" at the UK border due to a nationwide problem with e-gates at ports and airports.

The technical problem caused electronic gates to stop working late on Friday, meaning all passengers have to be processed through staffed airport desks.

It came as traffic built on motorways and queues grew at Dover due to the bank holiday getaway.

The Home Office said the issue had been resolved in a statement at around 6pm on Saturday.

A spokesperson said: "Following a technical border system fault which affected e-gate arrivals into the UK, we can confirm all e-gates are now operating as normal.

"We thank those travellers who were impacted for their patience and staff for their work in resolving the issue."

There are more than 270 e-gates at the UK border.

They can be used by British and EU citizens over the age of 12, as well as people from several other countries including Australia, Canada, the US, Japan, and New Zealand.

Heathrow Airport said it deployed extra staff to manage queues while the e-gates were down.

"Our teams are working closely with Border Force to help resolve the problem as quickly as possible, and we have additional colleagues on hand to manage queues and provide passenger welfare," it said earlier on Saturday.

"We apologise for any impact this is having to passenger journeys."

One traveller at Heathrow said on Twitter they had been waiting in a queue for four hours.

Another said they were met with the "mother of queues" for manual passport checks.

Another person at Heathrow tweeted: "Just landed to scenes of utter chaos. 2 hour queues just to get to the real queue. Gates broken."

Travellers on the roads also face the prospect of long queues throughout the weekend.

Journeys on some stretches of the M25 could take up to three times longer than normal, transport data company Inrix has warned.

Long delays are also expected on the M5 in Somerset and the M6 in Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

Drivers across the UK will make 19.2 million leisure car trips between Friday and Monday, according to estimates from the RAC, with the hottest day of the year so far forecast on Sunday.

Ferry passengers through Dover were advised to allow two hours to complete border controls and check-in - even before the e-gate problems.

DFDS ferry company tweeted: "Please be prepared with refreshments & use facilities before arriving at the port."

The Port of Dover said delays at French border control were due to "IT issues" with "high volumes of tourist and freight traffic on Port approaches".

People queuing at Dover told Sky News they had missed their ferry because of the queues and were "about to find out" whether they could get on a later sailing.

"It's frustrating, but it is what is," they said.

The resigned attitude was shared by other travellers, who said they had come expecting delays after seeing long queues on previous bank holiday weekends.

At Easter, passengers faced waits of up to 14 hours.

One couple in the queue of cars today told Sky News they had travelled half a mile in 35 minutes.

They said they had left three hours instead of 90 minutes but had still missed their check-in time.

The RAC said it was expecting the busiest weekend of traffic since before the pandemic.

"Getting away early in the morning or delaying trips until the evening are the best way to avoid the inevitable delays," spokesman Rod Dennis said.

While holidaymakers face the prospect of long queues, those staying at home for the long weekend should enjoy some of the hottest weather of the year.

Southeast Wales and around the Bristol Channel will get the best of the weather, with temperatures up to 24C on Saturday and Sunday.

Other parts of the UK could see temperatures reaching the high teens and low 20s.

The dry and bright weather is likely to continue for most, with little rain expected throughout next week during half-term.