Breaking: Computer Glitch Shuts Australian Borders

Update: The Department of Border Protection has deployed extra officers and is slowly processing each passenger manually. Passengers are expected to wait up to 90-120 minutes to be processed at immigration, for both arrivals and departures from the country.

Airport delay crowd
Passengers can expect to face up to 2+ hours at immigration at all Australian airports. Source: Wikimedia

New arrivals to Australia today received a shock as they found the country’s immigration borders swamped by thousands of passengers. A countrywide computer glitch has caused all immigration smart gates to go offline, and thus all passengers have to be processed by manual immigration officers.

Whilst not a problem for many countries, Australia has used computers to process arrivals and departures for a long time, generally only having two or three officers on site. With around 10,000 arrivals per hour across the country, even a slight delay can have a massive knock-on effect.

Today’s glitch has caused massive delays, with many passengers at risk of missing flights, voiding bookings and suffering under claustrophobic conditions whilst they await processing.

Whilst immigration is not required for domestic flights, it is believed that this issue will have knock-on effects across the country.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) is working with the Department of Home Affairs to resolve an IT systems outage impacting inbound and outbound passenger processing at international airports,” a spokesperson said in a statement to media today.

Which airports are affected?

Currently, all Australian airports that operate the smart gate technology are affected. The complete list is:

  • Perth
  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane
  • Adelaide
  • Canberra

And any other airport that operates international flights, such as Cairns or Darwin.

How are passengers reacting?

Despite delays of up to two hours, many passengers have been quite reasonable and have voiced their support to the hard working officers. Staff have been moving up and down the two hour long line of passengers, informing them about the issue and recommending that they remain patient.

The Australian Border Force has issued this advice statement for passengers travelling today:

Additional ABF staff have been deployed to process passengers and to minimise delays, Passengers are encouraged to arrive at airports early to allow additional time for processing.

Other passengers were not so forgiving, “Sydney airport you should be ashamed,” said one passenger to “7am, all the international flights are landing, the epassport gates aren’t working and 2,000 people are jammed into your poxy arrivals hall”, said one.

Are you caught up in today’s chaos? Let us know in the comments!