Hundreds of holidaymakers were forced to queue for hours as e-gate passport control gates stopped working in airports across the country.
Families with children and elderly passengers faced lengthy wait times overnight, with reportedly limited staff on shift at Gatwick and Luton to assist with the situation.
Several customers took to social media to express their outrage, with one user writing that it was a “shambles”.
A London Gatwick spokesperson later confirmed that it was part of a planned “routine maintance across all airports”.
Pictures and videos on social media show hundreds of disgruntled passengers waiting near passport control, with one woman writing that it took “over an hour” to go through immigration.
One person wrote: “Latest episode of ‘Nothing Works in this Country.’. Plane arrives at 2am at Luton after ongoing issues with UK air traffic control throughout the month. The icing on this s*** cake is that e-gates are down nationally, so the elderly, people with kids and disabled are all queuing.”
“Poor @Gatwick_Airport very poor,” another said. “90 minutes from wheels down to get through passport control is not “welcome to the UK”. Only ONE officer dealing with the MANY unable to get through e-gates.”
Another added: “Shameful/disgraceful situation @Gatwick_Airport this morning – flight already delayed by over 2 hours, then on landing (at 1am) we were held in a queue for over an hour to get to passport control (egates not in operation initially!!!!) everyone queued to go through manually.”
One woman was up for “22 hours straight” due to airport issues while another group of teenagers on a school trip were held at the gates for over an hour.
A Luton airport spokesperson said: “We are aware that some passengers experienced longer than usual wait times at immigration in the early hours of this morning whilst national maintenance work took place on the e-gates which are operated by Border Force.
“The welfare of our passengers is always our number one priority and additional airport staff were on hand to provide assistance.
“We apologise for any impact this may have had to passenger journeys.”