Americans Will Be Able to Skip Long Lines at Heathrow Airport

Chris O'Shea
By Chris O'Shea 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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Planning on traveling to London any time soon? Or maybe you'll just be passing through Heathrow Airport on your way to another destination. If so, you might want to reschedule that trip.

That's because starting mid-2019, American travelers will be able to skip the immigration and passport lines at Heathrow.

A gift from Brexit

The reason for the big change? Kindness! We're kidding, of course. It all comes down to money.

With Brexit on its way, the United Kingdom wants to attract more non-European travelers — the line-skipping privilege also applies to citizens from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Canada — and the spending that comes with them. One easy way to do that is to make traveling to the U.K. more appealing.

Long waits, be gone

If you've ever traveled to London or had to loop through Heathrow, you know how awful the long lines can be. According to data obtained by UK-based airline Virgin Atlantic, waits of two hours and longer are fairly common at the giant international airport. In fact, the report showed that on 30 of the 31 days in July, waits were 45 minutes or longer for 95% of non-European travelers.

When you just want to get to where you're going, that's a long time to wait in line.

Scan and go

Heathrow Airport has always had a fast-paced passport system, but it was previously only open to European citizens. Now, upon arriving at Heathrow, all you have to do is show your passport to an electronic scanner, then wait for your photo to be taken. Once the photo is cross-referenced with your passport and the computer confirms a match, you're on your way.

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