Would you pay £5 to skip passport control queues?

Would you pay £5 to skip passport control queues? That is the question now facing some UK travellers, as a new scheme is unveiled that would offer a fast-track service to arriving passengers.

Passport control queues have long been the bane of British travellers, as they add a lengthy delay to the completion of an already lengthy journey. But a premium fast-track option could soon be introduced, if a controversial new pilot proves successful.

The scheme, which was first unveiled at the start of this month, plans to charge £5 per passenger at Edinburgh Airport, which would allow people to skip the long queues waiting for their passport to be checked. This would be a similar, but separate surcharge to the premium fees already available for passengers looking for priority boarding and check-in.

The Sunday People reports that a fast-track passport control service could be rolled out at airports across the UK, but the reaction has been far from positive.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union dismissed the idea as a “gimmick”, telling the paper that it “exposes just how understaffed our borders are”.

“What happens if everyone opts to pay £5? We’re back to square one. Instead of gimmicks like this the Government needs to properly invest in staff to work at ports and airports because the shortages are there for all to see.”

Mark Gibbin, leader of the ISU union for border and customs staff, has already warned his members that staffing levels are at breaking point.

“There are simply not enough staff. Our members are working hours on end under oppressive, often hostile conditions,” he wrote in a recent memo. “Managers are under severe pressure to contain queues, creating still more pressure for frontline staff. It’s only a matter of time before serious public disorder and, who knows, even mass breach of the border.”

Home Office officials said that the Edinburgh will provide “a quick, secure and convenient route through the border”.

“Border Force is committed to providing an excellent service to all arriving in the UK,” they added.