Airports expect busy Easter and give advice to passengers to limit queues

With the UK’s pandemic-related travel measures having been removed, UK airports stand ready to welcome back passengers over the busy Easter period. They have spent the past few months getting ready, from ensuring terminals are opened up again to working hard to recruit the staff necessary to get people to their flight as quickly as possible.

While airports across the UK are increasing their staff as quickly as possible ahead of the expected sharp increase in passengers over Easter, a combination of a very tight labour market, delays in the necessary government security checks for new and returning staff as well as covid-related staff absences could put some airport operations under some strain. This may mean longer queues at peak travel times.

Many passengers will not have flown in over two years. To help get everyone away on their holidays as quickly as possible and keep delays to a minimum, airports are reminding passengers of what is the same but also what is different:

  • Check-in is taking longer, get to the airport in good time: check with your airline and allow for longer check-in times as airlines may need check if you have all the necessary covid-related documents to travel to your destination. Make sure you have your ticket, passport and covid-related travel documents ready to show staff when you reach the check-in desk so you can be on your way quickly.
  • Get ready for airport security: it’s been a while, so remember:
    • Carefully pack bags at home and carry only essential items in hand luggage (check Government advice on what’s allowed here): this helps reduce the need for manual checks, which can cause queues to build up.
    • Have your boarding pass ready for inspection (passport are not required at security).
    • If you’re carrying any liquid items (in max. 100ml containers) in a clear resealable plastic bag, take them out of your hand baggage while queueing, ready to put them in the security tray.
    • Take off your coat, watch and belt and remove any other metal items when you reach the front of the queue so you’re ready to put them in the trays.
    • Electrical items such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets will need to go through X-ray machines separately, so get them ready by taking them out of your hand luggage when you approach the front of the queue.
    • Place your hand baggage and coat/jacket into a tray, use more than one tray if you are carrying more than can easily fit in one tray.
    • You may be asked to remove your shoes and/or other items of clothing or jewellery before going through the security archway.
  • Returning to the UK: you will need to go through the UK border, where UK Border Force is facing similar issues as airport operators are. To avoid delays:
    • Check here if you can use an ePassport gate: passengers aged 12 with UK, EU and some other nationalities can use an eGate with a biometric passport.
    • Remove your passport from its cover and have it open at the photo page
    • Take off any hats, headphones and sunglasses and put mobile phones or tablets away when you reach the eGate or a Border Force officer
    • Stay together when travelling as a family and if you are not the child’s parent or may appear not to be the parent (e.g. if you have a different family name), it may be helpful to carry copies of key documents, such as birth or marriage certificate (more information here)

Commenting, Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said:

“Now UK travel restrictions have been removed, airports cannot wait to see passengers return in volume and to help people finally take that long-awaited holiday or reconnect with friends and relatives they have not seen for a long time.

“Airports have been preparing for this for some time, but at peak times passengers may not have the experience they are used to. Airports are working hard to recruit more staff in a very competitive labour market and are working with the UK government to resolve any delays in the necessary checks before staff can start work.

“For many passengers this will be the first time they have travelled abroad since the beginning of the pandemic and the processes required may seem unfamiliar. The advice airports (and airlines) are issuing should help ensure passengers are as prepared as they can be.

“If airports and passengers work together in this way, we can get everyone on their way as smoothly and quickly as possible.”