Delays in immigration queues at Heathrow have been much in the news lately. I am not a very frequent traveller, and my experiences have not been too bad.
Immigration staff are, in my experience, courteous, friendly and helpful. (This has not always been so. About thirty years ago I was threatened with exclusion from Britain with no right to appeal by an immigration officer. When I had abased myself sufficiently, he let me in.) The new landing cards help. The first question used to be “How long are you intending to stay?” Now that is answered on the card.
A year or so ago, a friendly immigration officer advised me not to arrive in Britain on a Saturday if I could avoid it. I am sure that he would now update that advice to “Don’t arrive during the Olympics if you can avoid it.”
I reckon my waiting time varies between almost nothing and 45 minutes. Coming back from Lisbon recently, it was about 25 minutes (this in Terminal 1, where there are very few passengers with non-EU passports arriving). The delay was caused by the fact that, for most of that 25 minutes, only one desk was open, and the person at that desk was dealing with a difficult “case”. It was clear that the queue for EU passport holders was also having problems; at one point it was far longer than the queue I was in (though it did clear much more quickly). Rosemary reported that the iris scanners were not working, and one person had simply walked through unchallenged. Our situation was made worse by the fact that the plane had been severely delayed. We had to run to catch the last Piccadilly line train to leave Heathrow, and then managed to change at Hammersmith for the last District line train. Another minute, and it would have been the night buses!