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Beware: Concerning issue with UK passport control face recognition for teenagers

(11 Posts)
bromleygirl Wed 12-Apr-17 18:32:33

Last night we flew back into the country after having a short break. Stanstead now has a number of automated face recognition passport control gates with signs stating anyone who is over 12 and has a chipped passport can go through. My DD went through at the same time I did. My 15 year old son who went next however; was not so lucky. While his passport was issued after he had turned 12 with a current photo; the machine would not recognise his face. We tried several times but nothing. At the same time, the exact same issue was happening to another teenage boy next to him whose parents had already passed through. The staff at passport control would not allow me back through and told my son that he would need to go on his own to see a passport official. Passport control staff did not assist my son and my son now found himself trying to gain access back into the country on his own without a parent.
Passport control stated that the machines were not working well; however it appears that the issue for teenagers and in particular boys that their faces change a great deal from when they are 12/13 and that by they time they are 15/16, they do not appear the same which then leads to the machines not recognising teenagers faces. To compound matters, if parents go through first and there is an issue as I have found, passport control will not let you go back to then ensure your child in fact enters the country. It was an extremely upsetting situation for our family and one that I hope no other parent and child has go through.

OP’s posts: |
Scribblegirl Wed 12-Apr-17 18:34:09

Good point to highlight OP. Definitely worth making sure teens go first - wouldn't have occurred to me.

Eastpoint Wed 12-Apr-17 18:34:50

We had the same thing the last two times we travelled with our son, each time we waited just the other side of the barrier for him. Once was Gatwick, the other time Heathrow,

TrinityForce Wed 12-Apr-17 18:37:29

You might not be aware, but these machines have MANY issues for normal adults too.

I'm a frequent flyer and see it happening a lot - also anyone with glasses, you have to take them off for the machine to recognise you. If your eyes are as bad as mine, this then means you can see if your face is perfectly in the face circle... many issues...

TrinityForce Wed 12-Apr-17 18:39:35

also: you can request to go through the 'non digital passport' queue - sometimes you might see it as the 'EU/foreign' queue or 'families' queue.

Just go through it if you're concerned.

MirabelleTree Wed 12-Apr-17 18:40:26

We had trouble with DS and this last summer and it was just getting really stressful when it finally worked on something like the 6th attempt. Next time we'll make sure he goes first.

meditrina Wed 12-Apr-17 18:49:47

They can be a bit crap generally. DS2 and I sailed through, t'others all had problems (and DH nearly didn't make it at all!)

If travelling in a group, then you need to talk about what happens if one or more of you can't get through. In Gatwick, there were plenty of staff, and it was possible and the queues to the desks were in full sight of those who had just gone through.

I expect (or at least hope) that if you highlight to staff there is a minor stranded on the other side, they'd scoop them past the ordinary desk queues and get them through and back to you asap.

SweetChickadee Wed 12-Apr-17 18:53:11

very tall seems to be an issue too - DH and another even taller chap had to go back and wait to see a bod instead.

MrsGotobed Wed 12-Apr-17 18:59:22

We've not used these machines yet as when we've travelled they've always ushered anyone with children (including those with just teens) through the manned desks.

However as a matter of course when going through any part of the airport procedure like scanning machines or ticket barriers we tend to go through with a parent first, then the DC , then the other parent just in case there's a problem like DD leaving her passport lying by the empty trays that you load all your stuff into prior to the Xray machine

KnackeredOldWoman Mon 08-May-17 14:54:55

Had a similar experience at stanstead on Saturday. Was with DH, he went through fine but I only got through on the third attempt. Very stressful, not helped by the staff being unhelpful, abrupt and ordering those who couldn't get through ( due to THEIR crap machines) over to another desk, which meant families were getting separated. Witnessed an elderly lady getting very anxious.

I hate landing back in the UK, queues, chaos and lots of rude staff

Lalalallama Mon 08-May-17 15:06:58

That sounds crap but at our local airport our automated facial recognition booths are gor users of age 16 plus. Parents travelling with any child under 16 are also not allowed yo use them.
Your issue explains why our airport does this.

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