In May 2023 there was a lot of excitement surrounding the e-gate failures that affected many consumers over the Whitsun bank holiday, after many had expressed equal excitement concerning the implementation of e-gates.  

The e-gate failures took place on Friday the 26th of May, shutting down 270 e-gates at UK airports. This caused a delay of 4 hours at the arrivals zone on the following Saturday while many travellers had to queue for manual passport checks to replace the e-gate checks.  

Prior to this week, the failure of the e-gates in May had not been publicly explained by Border Force or the Home Office, leaving many travellers and travel businesses concerned about the potential for failures to occur again.  

However, last week at a travel conference in London, Baroness Vere, the Aviation and Maritime Minister, stated, “The e-gates issue was caused by an upgrade. We’d made the point [to Border Force], ‘Don’t do an upgrade on the Friday evening of the May half-term’.” 

According to the admission and further reports, the e-gate failures in May were caused by badly timed system upgrades. This has caused some relief for those concerned about regular failures, as well as some outrage from those who were affected by the error in timing.  

Reports state that the Home Office and Border Force had been previously warned about the potential for upgrades to cause temporary failures 2 years ago by the e-gate IT provider.  

A source from the PCS union, representing Border Force staff, claimed at the time of the failure that e-gate failures had been happening for “some time”. This was later denied by aviation sources who claimed, “the system is pretty solid.”  

Another aviation source said, “They have to perform regular updates for security reasons. [But] it wasn’t smart to do it on the Friday of a bank holiday. Most big outages are caused by system updates.” 

There are many reasons that a trip through the airport could experience delays, this highlights the importance of being prepared in the case that manual passport checks are briefly required. Ensuring that your trip is as stress-free as possible is at the core of what PTS do for our members’ consumers, regardless of what small or big issues you may encounter. 

So, if you’re looking forward to your next holiday, don’t wait, book now with a travel business registered with PTS for 100% financial protection through trust. Or, if you’d like assistance choosing one of the lovely PTS members to book with, you can contact PTS directly at 0207 190 9988 or check us out on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter 

And if you’d like to learn more about your financial protection with PTS or how the Package Travel Regulations protect your holiday booking, check out our pages and Travel Advice. 

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