Gatwick & Heathrow: key advice for passengers using London airports during Border Force staff strike

How will the upcoming Border Force strikes affect arrivals and departures from Heathrow and Gatwick airports?

Industrial action continues in the United Kingdom, as Border Force workers are now on strike for eight days, causing delays for many passengers passing border control. The strikes are set to affect those departing and arriving from Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Port of Newhaven and both London Heathrow (Terminals 2,3,4 and 5) and London Gatwick airport.

The Public and Commercial Service (PCS) union announced the strike action as a means for its members to “start to take real, effective action to protect our pay, pensions, jobs and redundancy pay, as the cost of living spirals and causes PCS members real hardship”.

We do not take industrial action lightly but when the time comes we know this is what we must do,” they explained. “We have been taken for granted for too long. Strike action puts significant pressure on the employer – in our case, the government – to negotiate a fair settlement with us.

“Although we regret that this action can cause inconvenience to the people we serve, we feel confident that they will understand that we have no alternative and that our cause is just. Many people are suffering in the same ways we are – and many are taking industrial action too.”

The potential disruption to travel has led the Cabinet Office to train military personnel, civil servants and volunteers from across government  to support Border Force at airports and ports across the UK, however those entering the UK should be prepared for potential disruption.

Londonworld has had a look at the key messages from both London Heathrow and London Gatwick airport ahead of the PCS union round of industrial action, taking place from today (December 23) to December 26, and then by December 28 to December 31

Key messages from London Airports

London Heathrow

Heathrow said it was “doing everything we can to protect a full flight schedule on strike days, so departing passengers should expect to travel as normal”. The airport stressed that arriving passengers with UK, EU, US, Canadian and some other passports will be able to use its e-gates as usual.

They added the Border Force was planning some contingency measures on the strike days to “ensure other arriving passengers are cleared safely and as quickly as possible”. The airport has also issued advice to travellers using the airport in the next few weeks, including arriving no earlier than three hours before a long-haul flight and two hours ahead of a short-haul departure. Passengers are also being urged to check their airline to ensure there have been no last minute changes to departure times.

London Gatwick

In a statement released by London Gatwick said the UK Border will remain open and they expect flights to operate as usual during this time. However, they conceded passport checks may take longer than usual between December 23 and December 26, followed by December 28 to December 31.

Gatwick has also asked passengers to check the latest travel advice before heading to the airport , to pre-book Special Assistance with your airline several days before travel for anyone with mobility problems, bring extra food and water for journeys and check eligibility for e-gates at passport control.