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Liverpool, Manchester and London's latest airport advice as travel chaos continues

By Gemma Sherlock

Airports across the UK have issued fresh advice ahead of the busiest time of the holiday season.

It comes as passengers experience hour-long queues, flight delays and cancellations at some airports. Travellers flying from Birmingham Airport, Manchester and London Gatwick have faced major delays, with some queues tailing all the way back to the car parks.

A few Brits have even missed their flights because of the waiting times to check-in and get through security. While airports who have experienced these disruptions have apologised to travellers for the inconvenience caused, the problem isn't going away.

Read more: Liverpool Airport issue crowd warning and advise passengers not to arrive 'too early'

It is thought a mixture of staffing issues and a spike in travel following the coronavirus pandemic is to blame for the delays.

Following the busy scenes witnessed earlier this week, some airports have now issued fresh, travel advice as the summer season approaches. Scroll down below for key advice including arrival times, staffing levels and more from a selection of airports including Liverpool John Lennon Airport and various others.

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)

How early should passengers arrive before their flight?

Liverpool Airport recommend passengers arrive two hours, but no more than 2.5hrs, before the time of their flight departure. They have said that arriving any earlier than that can cause unnecessary queues.

What is the situation like at the airport at the moment, what is the average wait time for check-in and security?

Liverpool Airport passengers have continued to experience the same customer service that we’ve become known for pre-pandemic, with queue times of approximately 15-20 minutes at our peak times and significantly less at off-peak times during the day.

Is there anything travellers can do to experience a quicker checking in process at the airport?

Be prepared in advance of arriving at the airport, in terms of any paperwork and restrictions in place, such as look at parking locations in advance if parking a car here, have all the necessary airline documents to hand or on smartphones and check in online where possible.

Take only what is necessary for the flight in hand luggage. There are many more restrictions in hand luggage (carry on) than there are in check-in luggage, with restrictions still in place regarding liquids. Fewer items in hand luggage can mean a swifter process through security. Check on LJA's website for information on arriving at the airport and security restrictions to ensure you are prepared.

Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport Terminal 2 (Manchester Evening News)

How early should passengers arrive before their flight?

Manchester Airport are advising passengers to arrive three hours before their flight departs. If they do this, they say they are confident they will get them on their way.

What is the situation like at the airport at the moment, what is the average wait time for check-in and security?

An airport spokesperson said: "90 per cent of passengers are now getting through security in under 30 minutes but queues for security do occasionally extend to between 60 and 90 minutes."

Earlier this week though some travellers were waiting in queues for over two hours, with a few missing their flights because of the delays.

Is there anything travellers can do to experience a quicker checking in process at the airport?

The airport is continuing to advise customers to arrive three hours before their flights, and to ensure they are up-to-speed with the latest rules about what can be carried in hand luggage. At the same time, the airport is also asking passengers not to arrive earlier than this because it can lead to extra queues, and check-in and security facilities may not be open.

Passengers should also double-check that their hand luggage is compliant. Manchester Airport has said they have seen an increase in the number of bags requiring additional screening and searches, possibly because many passengers haven’t flown in two years and have lost their familiarity with the rules.

New security fast track bookings are suspended at the moment for Manchester Airport outbound passengers, but passport control fast track is still available for inbound T1 passengers, and the airport are honouring existing bookings. They say they have seen a high volume of bookings for the coming weeks and need to ensure that the service they deliver to passengers who have already booked Fast Track is what they would expect from a product of that kind.

Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport (Birmingham Mail)

How early should passengers arrive before their flight?

Birmingham Airport have not released an average time of when passengers should arrive by, despite experiencing disruption and long queues. They have sent out tweets to their followers though, recommending that passengers arrive exactly when their airline check-in opens, not earlier, or later but on time.

They said: "Top tip. Arrive exactly when your airline check-in opens. Not early. Not late. But on time. Arriving many hours before your airline check-in desk opens to either check in and / or drop luggage won’t help you or others. You risk being stood by a closed desk for ages."

Is there anything travellers can do to experience a quicker checking in process at the airport?

Birmingham Airport are also recommending that passengers prepare for security ahead of the queue. Remove any liquids - gels, pastes, lip balm, lighters, hand sanitisers, vapes - and place them in a 20cm-by-20cm clear plastic bag, which the airport can provide. Remove electrical items from your bags before their security x-rays. If you don’t, you risk having your bag pulled to be searched and rescreened, delaying you and others.

The airport has also said for those who are in the security queue and their flight departure / boarding time is looming, airport staff will call you forward.

London Gatwick

How early should passengers arrive before their flight?

Gatwick are advising passengers to arrive at the earliest time their airline allows to check-in.

What is the situation like at the airport at the moment, what is the average wait time for check-in and security?

Currently the busiest time at Gatwick is early morning, from around 4.30am to 7am. While queues have formed for security on occasion, Gatwick say these have been moving and dissipated quickly so they have not seen the ‘chaos’ that has been reported elsewhere.

Is there anything travellers can do to experience a quicker checking in process at the airport?

A Gatwick Airport spokesperson said: “The terminals may be busy and some queues may form during peak periods, such as weekends and holidays, when we see the airport returning toward 2019 passenger levels. Gatwick is therefore advising passengers to arrive at the earliest time their airline allows to check-in - and to make sure they know what they can and cannot carry through security before arriving at the airport.

“Passengers are also reminded to check that their passports are still valid - and have enough time left on them for the country being visited – and to check the foreign travel advice for all countries they will visit, or pass through, well in advance of travel."

Bristol Airport

How early should passengers arrive before their flight?

Bristol Airport are advising all customers to arrive in the terminal a minimum of two hours before scheduled flight departure time to allow sufficient time to complete all the necessary check-in, bag-drop, security, and boarding processes ahead of their flight.

What is the situation like at the airport at the moment, what is the average wait time for check-in and security?

Bristol Airport have apologised to passengers who were stuck in long queues earlier this week. In a statement they said: "We apologise to customers impacted by above average queue times during early morning peak operations on Tuesday 10 May; airline check-in/bag-drop did not exceed 35 minutes with security experiencing a maximum queue time of 40 minutes.

"We work closely with all business partners to ensure staffing levels are sufficient to provide a good service to passengers with an average queue time of 30 minutes for security during peak times. However, on some occasions staff shortages can impact on waiting times and service standards. We constantly review resourcing across all areas and adapt plans to meet demand and build in resilience where possible.

“We have seen a strong increase in passenger numbers since the end of all COVID-19 travel restrictions. There is a huge pent-up demand for travel which has built up over the past two years during the pandemic and we are expecting a busy summer."

Is there anything travellers can do to experience a quicker checking in process at the airport?

Bristol Airport recommends all passengers to prepare before arriving at security. This includes:

  • Have your boarding card ready
  • Remove laptop computers and other large electrical devices
  • Place liquids in separate liquids bags
  • Empty your pockets into the trays provided
  • Take off your jacket and/or coat.
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