British airports to arrive at earliest revealed

Posted on 3 July, 2024 by Advance 

A new study has revealed that Heathrow is the airport you need to arrive at the earliest to make your flight.

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The data, gathered by compensation experts, combines local authority traffic data from airport regions, yearly terminal passenger data and security queue times, to create a ranking of Britain’s airports and their efficiency.  
This study comes after British airports have experienced delays, due to changes in luggage liquid limits, power cuts, new technology and summer holiday rushes.  
In Manchester, power cuts resulted in the cancellation of all flights for an entire day last weekend, while at Birmingham, machines that process liquid and tech in hand luggage caused delays after bosses had to revert to the previous 100ml rule.  

British airports passengers need to travel to the earliest  

London Heathrow topped the ranking as the UK airport that passengers should arrive at the earliest, primarily due to the delays caused by the 79.15 million terminal passengers that annually travel through the site.  
A ranking, which scores the airports out of 100 for the longest traffic jam and queue times – with a higher score reflecting a longer wait – scored Heathrow 78.3.  
The airport also has problems with traffic, with approximately 3.17 million vehicles passing through the surrounding area each year. Security times for Heathrow are less intense than other airports, however, reporting an average wait of 20 minutes.  
Passengers this week have faced further disruptions, with many being forced to travel without their bags due to technical failings.
Birmingham Airport ranks second, with a score of 54.9 out of 100. With 11.48 million passengers using the site per year, and 2.64 million cars passing through the area, passengers must combat longer queues inside and outside of the airport.   
Passengers had to wait for an average of 24 minutes to get through Birmingham Airport’s security last year and may face further delays this summer, as a result of the new liquid and technology scanning equipment and renovations.   
Bristol is third with a score of 54.7. Passengers here wait an average of 30 minutes to get through security - the second-longest wait in Britain. Plus, with 9.91 million yearly visitors and 2.26 million vehicles nearby, Bristol is a busy airport for its size.   
Leeds Bradford Airport is fourth with a score of 51.4 out of 100. With an average wait time of 35 minutes to get through security, the airport has the longest wait time, despite low passenger numbers with 3.99 million reported annually.   
Rounding out the top five, Manchester Airport’s 28.08 million passengers per year make it the third-busiest airport in the UK. With a score of 50.5, out of 100 Manchester and Birmingham share a security queue time of 24 minutes. 

London Stansted is sixth, scoring 40.7 out of 100. Stansted flies out 27.95 million passengers per year and reports 1.87 million on-site vehicles annually. The average wait time is 18 minutes for security - less than the 20-minute national average.  
London airports pack out the top 10, as in seventh and eighth place are Gatwick and Luton. Gatwick scored 37.4, compared to Luton’s 34.3 and averages 40.89 million airport visitors per year, making it the second-busiest airport in the UK.   
Luton has only 16.39 million passengers per year but does experience more traffic, with 1.74 million vehicles in its surrounding area to Gatwick’s 1.66 million. It also has a longer security queue, at 19 minutes compared to Gatwick’s 16.  
In ninth place is Edinburgh, which attracts 14.4 million passengers per year and has scores 31.9 out of 100. With a wait time of just 16 minutes, the airport boasts one of the quickest security queues in the UK.  
Taking 10th place, Glasgow International airport has a score of 14.6 out of 100 and a security time of just 13 minutes - seven minutes faster than the national average.   
London City lands in 11th place, with a score of 12.2 and a wait time of only 12 minutes. With the fewest number of passengers at just 3.43 million per year and 2.07 million vehicles, if you beat the traffic, this is an efficient airport to fly from.  
Newcastle Airport is 12th, with a low index score of 8.7. With an average security time of 15 minutes and 4.82 million yearly visitors, the traffic makes this airport less stressful, with just 1.44 million vehicles passing through the area every year.  
Reflecting on these results, a spokesperson from offered the following advice to passengers planning their airport arrival times: “There’s a fine balance between arriving within plenty of time of your flight and wasting hours standing in line.   
“Huge queues at Birmingham Airport in the early hours of the morning are a partial consequence of worried passengers arriving deliberately very early for their flights. There’s rarely ever a reason to arrive at 6am if your flight is at 4pm. You should always aim to be at the airport three hours before your flight, particularly if you’re travelling via one of the top airports on this list.  
“It is always better to spend a little more time browsing in duty free, or sat in a coffee shop, than to risk missing your holiday, or being stranded. Make sure to check your local news and social media for updates on airport queues on the day of your flight and follow your airline’s advice. Always head to your gate as soon as it opens.”