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11 top tips to get through the airport quickly

Get your trip off to a flying start and whizz through the airport like a pro with a little help from our well-travelled staff and top travel bloggers. Here are their top tips on getting through the airport quickly; from speeding through security to navigating your way out at arrivals.

1. Pick a fast airport

Have you ever wondered if it’s quicker getting through one airport than it is another? Well we’ve run a study to find out which of our most popular UK airports are the fastest and the results are in. Congratulations to Birmingham for taking poll position!

Skyscanner’s Five Fastest UK Airports* 1 Birmingham 2 Edinburgh 3 Glasgow 4 Bristol 5 London Heathrow

2. Speedy start

"Try and book airlines that allow on-line check in and offer a bag drop service. By taking advantage of this not only are you more likely to get the seat you want in advance but when you arrive to the airport you can either head straight through security with your hand luggage or quickly drop off your bag at the dedicated desk. Book a seat near a door on the left hand side and you will likely be one of the first to disembark too."

Dan from Dan Flying Solo

How to speed through the airport: opt for smaller airports

3. Look before you leave

"Before you head off through security, check you have all the right documents (passports, tickets, visas) as well as your wallet and phone. Realising you’ve left something behind once through security can waste valuable time as you will need to be escorted back out. Also whenever you get up to leave somewhere at the airport – in a café, a bar or at the gate – always turn round and make sure you haven’t left anything behind – like your tickets."

Lucie MacNeill, Growth Junior Executive, Skyscanner

4. Be prepared

"Get as prepared as you can and check-in online before you fly. Some airlines allow you to check in online 24 hours before so you just drop your bag at the airport, saving you having to wait in the queue to check in. If you do have to check-in a bag at the airport, only take what you need with you on the plane and pack everything else in your hold luggage. What slows you down at security is having to remove your laptop, liquids and belt, so pack your liquids in your main luggage if you can."

Lisa, from Girl About The Globe

5. Find out what time you need to arrive for airport check-in

"Before you head to the airport, plan ahead and find out what time you need to check in for your flight. This information is usually given once booking and can be found on your boarding pass or in the booking confirmation. Remember check-in times can vary depending on your destination."

Cat McGloin, Travel Editor, Skyscanner

How to speed through the airport: arrive for airport check-in on time

6. Dress appropriately

"You know you’re going to have to take off your coat, hat, and shoes, so don’t wear tons of layers that are going to take forever to take off and put on just so you can walk through the x-ray machine."

Alyssa from Life’s A Movie

7. Be ready for security

"Make sure you have all your liquids, pastes and gels that are in containers of less than 100ml already in a sealable plastic bag before you get to security, and make sure it is easy to get to. Same goes for laptops and tablets. If you’re wearing a belt with a metal buckle, it’s best to take it off anyway, even if you’re not asked to do so as it’ll save you time from backtracking. These things are simple and obvious when you fly often, but if you’re not used to it, it’s not always clear what to do at security!"

Sam from Indefinite Adventure

8. Never join the security queue with kids in it

"Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker."

Alistair Hann, Chief Technology Officer, Skyscanner

9. Backpacks are best

"Although wheelie suitcases have become the go to for travelling, backpacks are still my favourite to get through an airport quickly. Not only can you skirt through the crowds quicker, you can usually fit more in and skip the dreaded ‘weight and fit it in the box’ test. By only using hand luggage you can also get out of the airport quicker on the other side!"

Dan from Dan Flying Solo

How to speed through the airport: bring a backpack

10. Set an alarm so you don’t miss your plane

"Set an alarm on your phone to go off at boarding time, it’s easy to get distracted in the departure lounge."

Chris Sharp, Engineer, Skyscanner

11. Make a good impression at immigration

"I’ve had some very varied experiences arriving at immigration, particularly in the USA, ranging from being processed quickly in a few minutes to being asked to go off to the interview room for a secondary interview (that was a fun start to my honeymoon). Be smartly dressed, polite and well spoken, make good eye contact with the immigration official and have a clear idea of where you are going next (name of hotel, car hire). Never ever make jokes and do not use your mobile phone. Also make sure you have a credit card to hand and if possible local currency as you may be asked to prove you are able to pay your way If you are travelling on business, never say ‘I am here to work’ as they will be concerned that you are going to be working illegally; a better phrase is: ‘I am here to have some meetings with business colleagues’."

Robert Smith, Technical Manager, Skyscanner

*The study was carried out with feedback from 200 UK travellers who have travelled from the UK’s top airports (according to Skyscanner data) to a Domestic or European destination in the last 6 months.The Five Fastest Ranking was calculated by awarding a speed score to each airport. The weighted speed score was calculated by comparing the number of non-fast track passengers flying to European and domestic destinations reaching their gate in less than 15mins, less than 30 mins and over 45 mins for each airport. Each airport had a minimum of 10 respondents and a maximum of 45.

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