Travellers at Manchester Airport have been asked to arrive at the airport at the earliest time recommended by their airline to help ensure they catch their flights.
Problems with queues and delays initially occurred on Wednesday 16 March, with the airport then blaming high traveller numbers and an unusually large number of bags which did not comply with security rules for the hold-ups, and many passengers took to social media to express frustration at the waits they faced to get to airside - or to collect their baggage in the Arrivals hall at the other end.
Airport bosses say they have since worked hard to recruit 700 new staff in the last few months - with plans to hire another 650 - to help speed up security operations and that most passengers should now expect to clear security checks in under 30 minutes on an average day.
On Thursday (8 December), most passengers at Terminals One, Two and Three said they had got through security smoothly in under 15 minutes this morning, with no major delays in reaching airside for most travellers. However the airport has warned of potential for delays and cancellations over the Christmas period because of planned strikes among passport control staff: see here for the latest.
An airport spokesman confirmed to ManchesterWorld that they had experienced a ‘busy’ summer season, with 2.7m travellers passing through the airport, but that they believed they were better prepared to handle any uplift in passenger numbers over Christmas 2022.
What has the airport said?
In June, the airport had 2.6m passengers - about 82% of pre-pandemic traffic. Official stats claim that in July, 92% of people have passed through security in under 30 minutes.
Ian Costigan, Chief Operating Officer of Manchester Airport, said in July: “We have made huge progress since April, having seen 600 people start work in security since the beginning of the year, with a further 280 waiting to clear background checks and start.
“And we are pleased to report that, as staff numbers have grown, the experience provided to the vast majority of our passengers has improved.
“Throughout July, more than 92% of people got through security in under 30 minutes. We were particularly pleased to see that in the last seven days, more than 95% passed through in under 30 minutes, and nearly three-quarters in under 15 minutes.”
When should I arrive at Manchester Airport?
An airport spokesman advised people to ‘arrive at the earliest time your airline recommends.’
You can find this by checking the individual airline’s website and searching for your route, but the general advice from the airport is to arrive three hours early - but not more than that. You can also speed up the process by checking in online in advance on your airline’s website or on their app. Many permit online check-in until up to two hours before your flight.
Some airlines - including Jet2 and Easyjet - are offering twilight bag drop services at Manchester Airport, so you can drop off check-in luggage the evening before to smooth the process on the day, but not all airlines do this - you need to check on your airline’s website baggage page in advance for details. TUI has introduced day-before bag drops between 4pm and 9pm at Terminal 2 recently on eligible flights starting with a TOM flight number: see here for more.
And, of course, travelling only with carry-on luggage can speed up your passage through airport - as long as your hand baggage complies with your airline’s size policies and you are not carrying any forbidden items such as liquids over 100ml - see the Government website here for an overview of these items, plus check out our handy guide to how to help your hand luggage get through security faster here.
Make sure your contact details on your airline booking are up to date too, so your airline can try to alert you to any significant changes or known disruption.
And finally, check which of three terminals your flight departs from and arrives into ahead of your trip, to make sure you get to the correct terminal in good time: this information should be in your flight booking on the boarding pass, and is also on the terminal checker here on the airport’s own website.
Terminal Three fully reopened again from Friday 22 April which has meant some airlines have changed which terminal they operate from: see here for which airlines that impacts.
How do I buy fast-track security passes for Manchester Airport and how much does fast track security cost?
You can usually buy fast-track security passes, which give you access to a priority lane, in advance by booking them on the airport’s website here from £4. However, some passengers have found them sold out at peak times so you are advised to book well in advance, or check for alternative times.
You can also buy a Passport Control fast-track pass for those returning into Manchester Airport across all three terminals and this costs from £4.
Is there a lounge at Manchester Airport?
The Escape Lounge is open to all passengers and you don’t need a first-class ticket as you can book a space in advance for Terminal One or Terminal Two or Terminal Three here. There is also the 1903 lounge at Terminal Two which can also be booked here.
Prices start at £24 but be warned that the lounges can book up some time in advance.
Are there hotels at the airport?
Yes, there are a number to choose from, including the Radisson Blu, Crowne Plaza, Marriott and Hilton, all within close range of the terminals.
You can see a fuller list and check distance here.
How do I book special assistance travel at Manchester Airport?
If you need special assistance at the airport, it’s advised you contact your airline at least 48 hours before your journey with your individual needs, including whether you are bringing your own mobility aids or assistance dog. The airline will then liaise with the airport’s special assistance team about your trip.
However, Shirley Valentine, a special assistance agent, said: “If you are unable to book your assistance prior to 48 hours before your travel, don’t worry. The airport can still assist you, although there may be more of a wait, especially at busy times. On your arrival, just report to the Special Assistance reception points, located in the check-in halls. Ask one of the airport’s customer service team, who patrol the terminals in orange hi-vis vests, for help or directions if needed.”
Sunflower lanyards can also be requested from the special assistance desk if needed and there are designated quiet spaces at Terminals One and Three.
You can find out more about assisted travel on the airport’s website here.