Manchester Airport passengers battle ’embarrassing’ 4am car park queues

Passengers at Manchester Airport battled huge queues again this morning. Lines stretched out of the Terminal 3 and into the car park from 4am.

The tails continued well into the morning at the only recently reopened terminal, with one passenger in the line calling the airports recent woes ’embarrassing’. Others reported taking more than two hours to get through the security queue, having joined as early as 4am. This comes just a week before the school half-term break, and the Queen’s Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

“Check-in, then sent to car park to pass through security? Ridiculous!” Said one disgruntled passenger. Another, at the front of the long queue in the Terminal 3 car park, as I made my way to the back at the other side of the building, said “how much could I sell my my space here at the front for?”

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I arrived at the airport just after 5am, and found a very quiet Terminal 1 and 2, which as a member of staff told me, is very usual for a Wednesday, as people do not tend to fly in the middle of the week. However, arriving at Terminal 3 around 5.30am, the terminal was packed near the security entrance with winding queues.

No one could tell where the queue started, and automatically reacted with shock when they were told to head to the car park to start their wait for security, before being left speechless when they saw the length of the queue in the car park.

Passengers took pictures and videos to share with people in group chats and social media, and laughed with those around them about the nature of having to queue in a car park. One couple who joined the car park queue at the same time as me said: “We got here early as we’ve seen all the stories about long delays but it’s a bit ridiculous to be stood in a car park queuing isn’t it?

The queues inside Terminal 3 just after 4am this morning
The queues inside Terminal 3 just after 4am this morning

“Some of our friends have had horrible experiences so we almost did expect the worst but it shouldn’t be like this. I’ve never queued like this in an airport in London or abroad so why is it such a problem here? People travel from all over the place to travel through here so it needs sorting out, it’s not even the school holidays yet.”

I timed that it took just under 40 minutes from starting in the queue in the car park to reach the ticket scanners to enter the lines for security at 8.30am. But, it appears people before me had a much worse experience.

Tom Morris told the Manchester Evening News that he had arrived at Terminal 3 around 4.30am for a 7.45am flight, longer than the three hours recommended by the airport, and went straight to security. “The queue was roughly 2ish hours in the standard lane (there’s a fast track lane so not sure of speeds there). The standard security lane seemed to build up quite heavily behind us.

Car park queuing in Manchester Airport's Terminal 3
Car park queuing in Manchester Airport’s Terminal 3

“It was slow going as there was only one conveyer belt/scanner at times. Hopefully it is sorted now. But there were only 2, sometimes 1 baggage checkers also which held up some people and further scanning.”

Calls would regularly go out to anyone who’s flight was within the next hour to ‘make themselves known’ so they could be pushed through the queues. One member of staff looked defeated and could only apologise as an angry passenger lamented the airport for the recent chaos, describing it as embarrassing.

The airport is still hiring for hundreds of roles to try and relieve the issues seen this year. HAS jobs fair held in Wythenshawe yesterday advertised many of these positions, from airport security to engineers, to add to the 200 who are starting work this month at the airport, according to Ian Costigan, Interim Managing Director of Manchester Airport. He also said that more than 1,600 people had applied in April. Airport bosses believe this should address many of the problems seen recently, including queuing, which are caused by staff shortages.

A Manchester Airport spokesman said today: “We apologise to any passengers whose experience at Manchester Airport this morning was not how they would like it to be. During our ongoing recovery from the pandemic, we continue to advise customers there may be some times when security queues are longer than usual, which is why we advise people to arrive three hours before their flights.

β€œOn Wednesday morning, while the vast majority of people passed through security in under 30 minutes, waiting times peaked at more than 60 mins in one of our terminals for a brief period of time, and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused.” The spokesman also said that at least three to six security lanes were running at all times.

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