Passengers using Manchester face the longest average security queue waiting times of any large UK airport, new research revealed.

All three of the northern hub’s terminals had worse waiting times than rival airports – averaging 16 minutes per passenger – while in the worst-case scenario one holidaymaker reported queuing for up to 90 minutes, according to consumer group Which?

Stansted and Luton also featured among the worst large airports for security queues, with average waiting times of 14 and 12 minutes respectively.

Almost 4,500 passengers were polled to give an estimate of how long they were kept waiting while going through security on their most recent visit to the airport.


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Overall, there were ten airports – including Heathrow T3 and T4, Leeds Bradford and East Midlands – where the longest waiting times reported by passengers was an hour or more.

The small airport with the longest queuing times – and worst in the UK overall – was Belfast International, where passengers wait at security for 22 minutes on average. In the worst case, one traveller reported waiting for more than two hours.

The airports with the fastest average security queues – Southampton, Southend and Exeter – were also the airports that earned some of the highest customer scores after Doncaster Sheffield in the Which? airport survey.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “Never-ending queues through security are a pain at the best of times, but if you are left waiting for hours on end you could find your flight has left without you.

“To add insult to injury, if this happens you are unlikely to qualify for compensation as the time it takes to get through security is out of the airline’s control.

“Airlines will rarely delay a flight due to long queues at security so it’s important to arrive at the airport in plenty of time, especially if you are flying from Manchester or Belfast.”