Manchester Airport waiting times: latest May half-term and school holidays travel advice from airport bosses

Ahead of the busy May half-term and school summer holiday periods, we asked Manchester Airport bosses for the latest advice on queues, security waiting times, and how to get through Terminal One, Two and Three more smoothly.

Passengers have been warned to expect a busy few weeks at Manchester Airport, as half-term travellers head off in large numbers - followed by another expected spike in travel over the double bank holiday at the end of next week.

It’s been a hectic few months at the airport, with a big increase in passenger numbers following the relaxation of Covid travel restrictions earlier this year.

The airport has since seen Terminal Three fully reopen and is undertaking a major recruitment drive to try to boost staffing levels across its operations, to help it cope with the surge.

Manchester Airport is currently on a massive recruitment drive and staff shortages have hit the headlines in recent weeks

However, the boom in travel has led to recurring issues with long queues and delays at check-in, security and arrivals, particularly at peak travel times.

And some passengers have been upset to find some lounge bookings cancelled and fast-track security sales suspended as the airport struggled to meet demand.


The airport is expected to be very busy in the coming days as local half-term school holidays begin on 28 May, followed by the Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday weekend on 2-5 June.

Today (27 May), airport bosses told ManchesterWorld that customers should look to turn up three hours before their flight and refamiliarise themselves with the rules around security and which items are not permitted.

Bosses are also hoping to reinstate services which have had to be temporarily shelved or reduced, such as fast-track security options and lounge bookings, as staff numbers increase.

Passengers queue for check-in at Manchester Airport. Photo: Getty Images

How long do I need to leave to get through Manchester Airport?

The airport still advises departure passengers arrive at the ‘earliest time recommended by your airline’, with bosses saying that this should mean arriving three hours before their flight.


However, they said people should not turn up earlier than that as some passengers have been turning up before check-in desks are open.

The airport also said passengers can help speed the process up by ensuring they have the right items in their luggage for going through security, saying some people have not flown for a couple of years and have maybe forgotten the rules.

Bosses said many people are now getting through security in around 30 minutes but acknowledged there are still periods when the waits are longer.

The airport now also has a ticker feature on the homepage of its website, giving a general estimate of current waiting times at each terminal as a guide.

You can also check out our comprehensive guide here to getting through the airport more smoothly, with daily travel updates.

And you can find our easy-to-follow guide to what you can and can’t put in your hand luggage here, to help you get through security faster.


Lounges and fast-track security passes

Manchester Airport has had to temporarily stop offering fast-track security passes and has cut down on lounge bookings, which have been the cause of some frustration for passengers.

It is now hoped that as more staff start work at the airport these can be reinstated.

However, airport bosses have not given any definite timescale for this.