SmartGates use facial recognition and ePassport technology to process people through passport control automatically. In such circumstances all passengers needed to be manually processed. It was chaos at airports. At Melbourne Airport there were reports of queues more than 200 metres long. Many of the Qantas airline’s outbound international flights at Melbourne and Sydney were delayed by about 30 to 45 minutes due to passengers being stuck in processing queues. Airport workers at the Harbour City handed out bottles of water to frustrated passengers. Emergency supplies were also coming out at Sydney Airport. The problem has been fixed after hours, but authorities say delays are still expected. The outage in Melbourne lasted almost six hours.
The SmartGates system
“The department is continuing work to bring all systems back online, ensure the integrity of the systems and resolve any ongoing issues,” an ABF spokesperson said. It is not yet clear what caused the incident. It is not the first time the system has failed at Melbourne Airport this year. The race is on to create a system whereby travellers will no longer need to present their documents to either a border official or passport kiosk.