Heathrow Airport
Passengers at the departure terminal at Heathrow airport's Terminal 2 in London. Image Credit: Reuters

UAE’s flag carriers Etihad Airways and Emirates have warned UAE passengers to expect delays at UK airports – London Heathrow, Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, and Manchester – from December 23-26 and 29-31. However, Emirates and Etihad operations to the UK will remain as scheduled, the carriers have confirmed.

In a statement to Gulf News, Etihad said that the UK Border Force staff are set to take industrial action across this period, meaning queues at passport control may be longer than usual.

“The UK authorities have promised contingency measures to ensure arriving passengers are cleared as safely and as quickly as possible,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates, in an update on its website, warned passengers to expect delays caused by longer wait times at border control.

“Due to the industrial strike affecting UK Border Force from 23-26 December and 29-31 December, Emirates customers arriving at London Heathrow, Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, and Manchester Airports may be impacted with a longer wait time at border control. Customers are advised to check emirates.com for the latest flight information regularly,” said Emirates.

These passport holders are exempt

Passport holders arriving from certain countries are exempt from the long wait. Etihad said passengers coming into the UK holding passports from the UK, US, EU, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, and Switzerland would be able to use the electronic passport control gates (e-gates).

“There is a possibility that the dispute causes wider operational delays for airlines over this period which would have an impact on departures from the UK and arrivals,” explained Etihad.

Tips for passengers departing from UK

Emirates has advised passengers to arrive at the airport four hours before the departure of their flight. “Customers should also be fully prepared with the correct travel and health documentation for their destination,” said the airline.

Passengers have also been advised to double-check all baggage packed and ensure it complies with local rules and regulations.

“You must complete security checks before boarding a direct or connecting flight. It is advisable not to take along water bottles or amenity kits to avoid delays at the checkpoints unless the liquids, creams and gels in your possession are within the permitted limits,” said the airline. Passengers are also advised to carry minimal hand luggage for their flight and avoid bringing oversized coats or umbrellas, as this will reduce queues at security.