So I’d unexpectedly been upgraded to business class on my return flight into Heathrow Terminal 3 a couple of weeks ago, and during the flight the steward had handed me a card authorising access to the ‘Fast Track’ channel at passport control. Great, I thought.
On arrival, the immigration area was jampacked and heaving with people: later, I counted 18 flights on the screens at baggage reclaim as having arrived in quick succession at Terminal 3, almost all of them long-haul (Singapore, Delhi, Muscat, Bangkok, Dubai, etc). Even the queue for EU passport-holders stretched out of the door. I sidled over to the Fast Track lane, showed my card, and joined the shortish queue.
25 minutes later I was still standing in line. Meanwhile, the entire queue of non-Fast Tracked EU passport-holders had been processed, and the hall was three-quarters empty.
You see, this was not Fast Track for EU passport-holders. Anybody and everybody who’d flown business class on the previous 18 flights was in that queue. So the two officials posted to Fast Track were having to do complete security checks on some people, with detailed questioning and referrals, before they could issue visas, as happens at the ‘Other Nationalities’ zone. Except that Other Nationalities has about 10 or 15 desks staffed, whereas Fast Track has only two.
I don’t even know who to blame: is it BAA’s fault, or the UK Border Agency, or the airlines?
Fast Track at a British airport is a relatively simple concept to grasp: obviously, it should be for EU passport-holders only. Whoever is to blame, next time I’m opting for the ordinary line.