Families told of change affecting children in all UK airports from summer 2023

Families with children could be able to speed through airports this summer under new plans to expand the use of electronic passport gates.

Usually, parents of kids are forced to queue for ages to see border control as their kids can't pass through electric gates.

It's extremely annoying when you're tired from looking after children for hours on a cramped plane…

Now, a trial allowing children aged 10 and 11 to use e-gates is being launched at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and could be expanded to all airports throughout 2023.

At present, passengers aged under 12 are banned from using the gates, forcing families to queue for passport booths and to see a border control agent face-to-face.

READ MORE: Martin Lewis issues vital travel warning to follow before booking 2023 holidays

During the severe disruption caused by staffing shortages which affected UK airports last year, many groups with children found themselves caught up in big queues, reports the Mirror.

E-gates use facial recognition technology to check passengers' identities against the photo in their passport making it a speedy process to get through.

Border Force director-general Phil Douglas, speaking at the annual conference of the Airport Operators Association in central London, said one of the reasons for the trials of allowing 10 and 11-year-olds to use the gates is to ensure it does not increase the risk of child smuggling.

He said: "Part of the reason why we don't allow children to use the e-gates is technological – because children's faces change.

"But there's a balance to be struck between helping families not to queue and making sure our safeguarding processes work."

Asked when the policy could be rolled out across UK airports, he replied: "My aspiration would be to have it in place for the summer but that depends on how the trials go.

"It would be a decision for ministers."

Transport Secretary Mark Harper, speaking at the same event, said: "We have to be comfortable that the technology works for that age cohort.

"But if those trials are successful I'm sure ministers will want to make sure that we have as smooth and seamless a progress into the country as possible."

He added that the primary responsibility of the Home Secretary is to maintain security, but it is also making sure that "we have the best possible passenger experience".


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