Special immigration lanes dedicated to Olympians sound great, can we have them for British citizens too?

Janice Atkinson for The Daily Mail
10th July 2012

The Home Secretary has said that arriving Olympians are to pass through immigration without delay.

The jumped-up, puffed-up, former Minister-who-failed to-do-anything-about-immigration Keith Vaz, is ‘appalled’ at delays in getting through immigration at Heathrow’s Terminal 4.

Yesterday, he was at Heathrow at 7am looking for the opposition soundbite of the day – that Olympic traffic was queuing for up to one hour to get through immigration. His experience was backed up by Yvette Cooper in Parliament. Well, Mr Vaz and Ms Cooper, I, along with all the other Brits are also appalled at having to queue to get back into our own country.

According to BAA, which operates Heathrow, the Border Force yet again failed to meet its 45 minute maximum waiting time target for passengers from the EU along with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.

Bully for them. Why are we lumped in with other EU citizens when we should have our own fast lane for British citizens? As I have said on RightMinds before, why do we have to queue with other migrants – when we are outside the Schengen agreement – to get into our own country?

BA’s Willie Walsh says that Britain is losing business because of the long delays getting through Heathrow.  I am more worried about us losing business than Olympians and their entourages having to queue.

There is a way round it though. Those who travel business or first class get a fast track lane through passport control and those with the new passports providing iris recognition. Pay up and you can sail through.

On a related note, last week I travelled through Stansted for a Ryanair flight to France. You expect to be treated like cattle on a Ryanair flight.

You might pay extra for priority boarding but then Ryanair opens the back of the aircraft and lets everyone else through. They put ‘Reserved, do not sit here’ signs on the first four front rows so that the priority boarding passengers then collide with the other frenzied passengers seeking a seat coming the other way.

They could put ‘please’ on their reserved signs. There are other irritations too, but that’s what Ryanair says on the tin and that’s what you get. What you do not expect as a passenger is cattle-truck treatment by the staff on the ground at Stansted.

They ask you to place hand luggage liquids in a clear plastic bag. This is done through thought transference as there are no staff to ask for a bag.

At Gatwick and Heathrow these are provided free of charge.  At Stansted the penny finally drops and you work out that you have to put £1 into a dispenser which gives you four of them, but you can only use one 22cm square bag. Witness the indignity of the women scrambling around in their handbags with lip gloss, mascara, tampons tumbling out and assorted handbag detritus falling onto the floor.

Then you queue up to pass through security. The floor is dirty but you are told, not asked, to take off your shoes and walk barefoot through the security gates.

When I asked was this necessary I was told ‘I don’t make the rules love’. Heathrow ask you politely and offer covers for your feet.

Conversely, coming back through Carcassone airport there were no liquid checks nor removal of shoes and the French were extremely polite.

I’m dreading taking my family through Stansted back to Carcassone in a few weeks time at the peak of the school holidays.

I will be away for the Olympics when London will grind to a standstill but Olympians and their entourages will sail through immigration and be transported by VIP traffic-free lanes in 4,000 BMWs.

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