I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 early Sunday morning and the immigration hall was so jammed with people that the lines snaked down hallways. Fortunately (or so I thought) I had a Fast Track ticket for the priority immigration line. The Fast Track line also went down the hallway and was next to the normal immigration line. The Fast Track line moved very slowly, and the normal immigration line moved much faster, but the normal immigration line was very long and once it was out of the hallway and in the main immigration line it went back and forth like a line for an amusement ride. After an hour in the Fast Track line, I located a supervisor and asked why the Fast Track line was moving so slowly. His reply was simply that he didn't know and that I could move to the regular queue if I wanted. Very frustrating. After an hour and 45 minutes, I had only moved a short distance in the Fast Track line and the line for regular immigration had shortened considerably. Out of sheer exasperation, I finally left the Fast Track line and went to the regular immigration line. That took another 15-20 minutes, but at least I was moving, and ironically, additional immigration agents were added to the Fast Track line and it ended up about a tie for me to get to immigration in the normal line compared to the Fast Track line. All in all, an incredibly frustrating experience.
In my view, British Airport Authority, or BAA, the owner of Heathrow, has made a mockery out of Heathrow Airport. Heathrow is so poorly managed that in my view it is an embarrassment to the United Kingdom. This experience, just two months away from the Olympics, portends bad things for visitors to the UK for the Olympics. In my view, BAA has proven that they are incapable of managing Heathrow and should be forced to sell Heathrow to a manager who can get it right.
I've been trying to figure out how to complain directly to BAA and the UK Border Agency, but their websites appear to make it impossible to file a complaint (sounds about right). So I have to resort to my blog.
For those traveling to London, my best advice: AVOID HEATHROW!