After a week of moving with little effort between EU countries we returned to the UK. The experience was dreadful.
My wife is Japanese, so was denied the benefit of the “EU Passport Holder” channel, something other European countries seem happy to accommodate. Instead she was pushed into a line where people in purple waistcoats shouted at visitors already dazed and confused after hours of travel and cramped conditions.
For more than 2 hours she shuffled slowly forwards with no information. She was trapped in a crowd of people unhappy, tired, upset, confused. Her lifeline was a smartphone connection to me, but what could I tell her? It took me 20 minutes to get through the border and the only information I had was watching people from our flight collect baggage. It took nearly 90 minutes for the first person to arrive to collect their bags.
The atmosphere and comments from those who made it through was telling. Complaints of dreadful behaviour from border staff. Of lack of information. Of people commenting they know things will get worse “next year” but they won’t be back.
Our wonderful honeymoon cruising the Baltic ended in anger and exhaustion. It ended in a discussion about how to avoid Heathrow completely in our travels. Most telling, it ended with Takako proclaiming angrily, “It made me want to turn around and go home.”
The UK’s “Hostile Environment” has reached our borders. I wonder how long this unwelcoming attitude to visitors can last.