Well heeled passengers will soon be able to pay up to £50 to jump the immigration queue under a new fast-track system designed to cut down on delays.
A trial being introduced next year at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 will allow travellers without biometric passports to pay to use automated fast gates.
Luton and Liverpool airports already allows passengers to jump long security queues if they pay a charge when leaving the country.
The automated gates will read new biometric passports, which have chips containing details of the distance between a person’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
Almost 20 million Britons have the new passports, introduced in March 2006. They will be able to use the scheme free of charge, along with EU nationals who also have biometric documents.
BAA, Britain’s largest airport operator, is in talks with the UK Border Agency over a scheme, called ‘automated clearance system plus’ (ACS+), which would allow the 28million Britons who hold old-style passports to also use the gates.
Under ACS+, passengers would pay to ‘enrol’ at Heathrow, with data about their facial features being stored on a computer and matched to their passport number.
They would then be able to pass quickly through automated gates when returning to the UK, rather than having to queue to have their passport manually checked which can take up to 45 minutes
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘New automatic gates using biometric information provide effective security and faster checks for legitimate travellers.
‘ACS+ is in development at this time and we anticipate that more information on the scheme will be available by the end of the year.’
Business travellers from outside the EU would also be able to sign up to the scheme.
Iris Recognition Immigration System
Up to 90,000 British passengers a year already avoid immigration queues at Heathrow Airport by undergoing an IRIS test – which matches their eyes against information on a database – while presenting their biometric passport.
The alternative to paying the charge would be for travellers to renew their passports early, which costs from £77.50 for it to be posted out up to £129.50 for a same-day service.
Heathrow said the charge would help to pay the £7million cost of the new automated gates.
A spokesman added: ‘It would be an economic decision for the passenger to make’.
Of course none of these measures will make any difference to non EU passengers, or those British and EU travellers with checked luggage – which will still take 30 to 40 minutes to appear on the carousel.
Source: Daily Mail
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