UK Airport Security Queues and the Fast Track Service
Going on holiday or travelling on business should be a pleasurable experience, and for the most part, it is.
However, as great as us Brits are at queuing, there are a percentage of us that struggle to handle the queues – especially at peak times.
If you’re disabled, travelling with someone who is disabled or travelling with young children, long security queues are a sometimes a burden and can cause some distress.
For others, the idea of paying for a “Fast Track” and avoiding the queues at security is something they’re likely to put on the cost of a holiday to make the airport experience far more palatable.
Here, we take a look at the different ways you can get through security quicker, and how you can help yourself when it comes to avoiding delays.
People with disabilities or reduced mobility have legal rights under European Law to have assistance within the airports but you must inform your airline prior to travel so it can be set up for you.
If needed, you can have someone assist you from your transport to the airport, through check-in and security, helping to ease the process.
Wheelchairs and buggies are all available from every UK airport, but, especially at peak times, availability can be much improved if you call ahead to get the help and support you need.
In addition to this, getting through security with companions that have a non-physical disability can be made easier if the processes of security screening are explained clearly in advance – a process that is carried out by many airport aides, but should also be iterated by the non-impaired companion before arrival at the airport itself.
If you’re worried about how your companion will tolerate any searches, especially if they are diagnosed with ASD, Alzheimer’s, or other mental health disorders, ask the specific airport you’re travelling with well in advance of travel, so they can put in place a plan prior to your flight.
Children can get fractious waiting around in the security queue which not only makes parents stressed it can also upset other passengers who are less tolerant. This is not a situation that any airport wishes to have, so there are also facilities at security for families.
Always read up before about the airport you are travelling from to ensure you know what is on offer from buggies to fast track services (explained later in this guide).
If there is no fast track, it’s well worth trying to make the security line a game where the children can count how many ahead or behind them or get them to spot how many pink suitcases or hats in the queue - anything that gets them involved and makes the time speed up.
Carrying Milk For Your Children
This will usually be subject to additional screening tests – so to make it easier for you, it may be simpler to pre-order your milk from a shop in departures making security a little quicker.
It is slightly different for children’s juices, which you cannot take through unless it is less than 100ml of liquid and in a clear transparent bag plus you can only have one per passenger so if there is something specific your child drinks, see if you can purchase it in the shops after security – if not, consider trying to get them to try a widely available drink well before you’re sue to travel so that you have options.
Passengers that have a lot of medications need to make sure they are all out in a separate clear bag or bags, so they can be checked quickly, and they should also have the passengers name on the bottles unless they are over-the-counter medications.
The liquid amount of 100 ml maximum does apply to over-the-counter medication so be aware of this before you purchase large bottles. There are chemists within all of the UK’s airport terminals, so you will be able to purchase more once you’re through security.
If you have medical equipment that needs to come with you on the plane, you need to make the airline aware before you travel so they can advise you depending on the type of machine you’re travelling with. Airports need at least 48 hours notice to accommodate these requests so that procedures are put in place to have your equipment checked properly during security without damaging it.
Usually, a letter from the doctor is helpful as it details the reasons for the need of the machines, but it is always best to call your airline before travelling or even discuss when booking so you know the procedures in place.
If you use a wheelchair, this will need to be checked through security. As it is made of metal, your chair will need to be individually checked with a metal detector so if you are travelling with a passenger who may find this procedure uncomfortable or distressing, please speak with the airline or airport before travelling for specific advice.
Fast Track Services
A few of the UK airports now offer ‘Fast Track Services’, which do, as they say, fast track you through security.
The checks are the same and you usually pay for the service but the queues are shorter. If we look at a few UK airports offering this service you’ll have a fair idea of what you get for your money, so you can decide whether it’s something you can benefit from.
Birmingham Airport Express Lane Security
Birmingham Airport have a service called ‘Express Lane Security’ which is a paid for service costing the passenger £3 each if paid for in advance or £5 from the kiosk on the day. The service has been designed to help speed up the process offering these passengers a separate lane through security, which is faster than the rest.
Manchester Airport Fast Track
Manchester Airport has ‘Fast Track’ in security, which is again, a dedicated lane for passengers who have pre-paid for the privilege. It costs £3.50 per passenger and you can pre-book on their website.
You may wonder why Heathrow or Gatwick Airport did not make it onto that list – sadly, just because they are large, it does not mean they cater for everything.
Heathrow’s Fast Track services are only available for First and Business Class passengers plus top level members of some airline frequent flier programmes. They do state they offer free assistance to people with disabilities, helping them through security but there are no specific fast track facilities for families or those with a disability.
They do offer assistance for visually impaired or blind passengers by giving them a dedicated member of staff to stay with them from check in to departure, but this does not promise a faster route through security.
Gatwick Airport does not have a fast track lane but they do offer ‘Family Assistance Lanes’. The lanes have been created for both departing and arriving families with separate security lanes for families travelling with young people especially in buggies with larger lanes making it easier to manoeuvre through.
The lanes are clearly signed after check-in but if you cannot find them then just ask a member of staff. These lanes are also available in immigration so you can be safe in the knowledge that you are going to be able to access the whole airport with a buggy.
Going through security faster is something that families with small children or parties travelling with a disabled passenger really do need to consider.
Whether you’re willing to pay, or take advantage of the options open to you, it’s a good idea to call your airport before you travel to ensure that you’re aware of any restrictions or assistance to make your time in the airport terminal more palatable.
To find information relating to any UK airports Fast Track service simply go to their website.
Hope you found something on this page which helps your journey through airport security a little easier. Have a good trip.