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Luton Airport passengers delayed by immigration computer glitch

Around 1,000 passengers have been delayed by a computer glitch at Luton Airport. It hit the complex new system for screening all EU passports and those from other countries with a machine readable strip.
Normally passports are read automatically by being passed underneath a scanner, a process which takes around seven seconds.

However the computer system crashed, meaning that officials from the Border and Immigration Agency had to enter the information manually.
This, it is understood, trebled the time needed to process individual passengers, leading to lengthy queues at the immigration hall.
The glitch was cleared within hours enabling the immigration service to work normally.

Luton’s problems were the latest to hit the new scanning system, following its introduction last year.
Before the scanning machinery was brought in EU passengers showed their passport to the immigration officer, whose task was to compare the photograph with the person presenting it.

The scanners were designed to improve border security but at the same time doubled the time needed passengers needed to complete the border formalities.
Even though this was a matter of seconds at busy times it led to lengthy queues, especially at Stansted Airport.
The system had, until the problems at Luton, been running smoothly with only occasional reports of delays at busy times at Stansted.

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