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Airport security queues: How long will you have to wait?

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Passengers at some of the UK’s airports reported waiting over an hour to clear the security gate. Here are the best and worst UK airports for security queues.

Holidaymakers travelling from Bristol (17%), Birmingham (11%) and Manchester (8%) reported being stuck in airport security queues of over an hour, according to research from Which?

The campaign group said 7% of respondents even missed their flight because of excessively long queues.

It surveyed almost 1,300 people who flew from UK airports between February and August 2022, and on average, those travelling from Leeds Bradford had the longest wait times at 35 minutes.

Bristol came second at 30 minutes while those travelling from Birmingham reported an average wait of 24 minutes.

Meanwhile those travelling from City Airport in East London waited an average of 12 minutes in the queue, with half of travellers reporting wait times of between five and 10 minutes.

It was also the only London airport not to record any wait times of over an hour.

The consumer champion also revealed City was among the best airports in the UK, ranking joint third in a survey of almost 7,500 travellers it polled, asking them about their transit experience.

Here, passengers gave it the top five stars across all queue types, from check-in, bag-drop, security, passport control and baggage reclaim.

Belfast City and Glasgow International were also among the airports to have performed well on security queue times, each having an average wait of 13 minutes.

Nearly a third who used Belfast City reported waiting less than five minutes to pass through security, with 31% reported at Glasgow International.

Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel said: “Travellers this year have borne the brunt of unprecedented chaos at UK airports, with huge numbers enduring long queues and some even missing a flight due to excessive wait times to clear security.

“Your choice of airport shouldn’t make or break your holiday – but for too many travellers this year, that has been the case. We’d recommend choosing an airport with a better record on queues and treatment of passengers, even if that involves travelling slightly further from home.”

Average reported security wait times in minutes

The table below shows the average wait times at UK airports: