Long immigration queues will soon be a thing of the past for Australians entering the UK. From next year, Australians will have access to e-gates when flying into airports across the country, including London Heathrow. The UK e-gates will also be available to citizens of New Zealand, the United States, Canada and Japan.
The automatic e-gates, which are similar to those used at Australian airports, can already be used by passengers with a UK, European Union or Swiss passport.
British airports have been criticised in recent months for long waiting times at the border. For example, it was reported that the UK Border Force at Heathrow Airport managed to meet its internal processing time targets just one day in the month of July this year. The target is to process at least 95% of passengers within 45 minutes.
The announcement that Australians (and passengers of various other nationalities) will have access to UK e-gates was made in the UK budget this week. The news has been welcomed by Australian-based members who can look forward to much shorter waiting times when entering the UK.
Wow that’s good news, should make immigration a whole lot better experience. (The current fast track should just be called track).
Very excellent news – even though I get to use the EU lanes (attached to SWMBO) most of the time, the e-lanes are much faster and less waiting.
The policy change is due to be implemented in mid-2019. At this stage, no exact date has been announced.
It is already possible for Australians to fast-track through the e-gates at UK airports by signing up for the UK Registered Traveller program. But this is only available if you have a UK visa or entry clearance, and have visited the UK at least four times in the past two years. The program also costs £70 ($125) per year.
Australians can already use smart gates in countries including New Zealand and Singapore.
In Monday’s budget, the UK government also announced it will increase the Air Passenger Duty charged to passengers departing the UK on international flights. The short-haul tax (applicable to flights under 2,000 miles) will remain at £13 ($24) for Economy passenger and £26 ($48) for every passenger in Premium Economy, Business or First Class. But the tax on long-haul departures will increase to £80 ($143) for Economy passengers and £160 ($286) for those in premium cabins.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Australians (and certain other nationals) allowed to use UK biometric gates from mid 2019