Which? names UK's worst airports for security queues

London City was the best performing of the airports studied

Passengers at Leeds Bradford Airport, the UK's worst for security queues. PA
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Passengers have helped identify the country's worst airports for security queues, in research carried out by consumer champion Which?

Leeds Bradford was named the UK’s worst airport for security queues, with an estimated average wait time of 35 minutes, the Which? survey found.

London City was the best performing of the airports studied, with an average estimated security queue time of only 12 minutes. Half of its users reported a wait time of between five and 10 minutes.

Researchers asked about 1,300 people who travelled from a UK airport between February and August how long they had queued for security.

Airports and average waiting times

  • 1 Leeds Bradford: 35 minutes
  • 2 Bristol: 30 minutes
  • 3= Birmingham: 24 minutes
  • 3 = Manchester: 24 minutes
  • 5 Heathrow: 20 minutes
  • 6 Luton: 19 minutes
  • 7= Stansted: 18 minutes
  • 7= Belfast International: 18 minutes
  • 9= Gatwick: 16 minutes
  • 9= Edinburgh: 16 minutes
  • 10 Newcastle: 15 minutes
  • 11 Glasgow International: 13 minutes
  • 12 Belfast City: 13 minutes
  • 13 London City: 12 minutes

At Leeds Bradford, 27 per cent of customers surveyed said they had waited for more than an hour to pass through security.

Air passengers reported security queues in excess of an hour at nine airports, including Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester.

Seven per cent of all those polled said they had missed a flight due to being stuck in a long queue.

There was major disruption at airports across the UK this year due to staffing shortages and a surge in demand for travel after coronavirus restrictions were scrapped.

This led to flight cancellations, problems with baggage handling and long security queues.

A spokesman for Leeds Bradford said: “Earlier this year, like many airports across the UK, we had periods of long queuing due to the rapid resumption of international travel after the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

“We have since significantly reduced queuing in our terminal.”

Half of passengers surveyed at London City reported a wait time of between five and 10 minutes. EPA

A spokesman for trade body Airport Operators Association said: “Our airports have worked tirelessly to alleviate these staff shortages and the overwhelming number of passengers were able to enjoy the summer holidays with minimal disruptions.”

Guy Hobbs, editor of magazine 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.”

Updated: November 23, 2022, 7:15 AM
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