Manchester Airport shares top tips for festive trips – including why you should be careful about travelling with snow globes and Christmas presents
As one of the largest transport hubs in the country, Manchester Airport is busy all year round and serves millions of passengers through the winter months.
Christmas is a particularly popular time for travel – for the thousands of families flying to Lapland in search of Father Christmas, holidaymakers seeking out wintry scenery, winter sports enthusiasts heading to the slopes for the start of ski season, shoppers visiting Europe’s best Christmas markets, or just people travelling to spend the festive season with their families, December is a popular time to catch a flight.
More than 780,000 passengers will pass through Manchester Airport between Friday, 22 December, and Tuesday, 2 January – numbers which are comparable to the peak of the summer holiday season.
Winter travel is not without its challenges – both for passengers and the airport itself. You can read more about how the airport prepares for wintry weather here.
With the airport being so busy, it is also important passengers travelling over the festive period arrive well-prepared and follow the instructions given by airport colleagues to ensure their journeys get off to a smooth start.
The airport has shared some top tips for travellers, outlining what they need to do before they arrive, what they should consider packing, and how to get through security without any hitches.
Allow plenty of time for your journey to the airport and keep an eye out for service updates if you are travelling to the airport by public transport. Winter weather can cause disruption to the road and rail networks, and some public transport operators have been affected by strike action in recent months. Most airlines recommend that you arrive at the airport in time for your check-in desk opening – this will typically be two hours before departure for short-haul flights, or three hours for long-haul flights, but do check your airline’s guidance on this.
Make the most of the space in your luggage by rolling up clothes rather than folding them and choosing versatile items that you can combine to create several different outfits while you’re away. Don’t forget winter essentials like hats, scarves, gloves, thick socks and rain jackets.
Familiarise yourself with the security rules for hand luggage before you travel. These rules are in place to keep everyone safe and are just as important at Christmas as at any other time of year. Large electrical items like hair straighteners, laptops and iPads must be taken out of your bag and placed in a tray with nothing covering them. Liquids, gels and pastes need to be in marked containers of 100ml or less, and must be placed in a clear, resealable plastic bag with a capacity of up to 1,000ml for screening.
Liquid medication in quantities over 100ml is permitted, but you must have a prescription with you and your name must be printed on the prescription label on the bottle. You must also declare it to a security officer.
If you have special dietary requirements requiring you to bring liquid food, this is also allowed, provided it is declared to a security officer and you have a doctor’s letter outlining the requirement. If you have an infant you can bring through breast milk in containers of up to 2,000ml, whether the infant is travelling with you or not, but again this must be declared to a security officer. The milk cannot be in frozen form.
Be careful that your Christmas presents don’t break the rules! The Christmas period often sees a spike in the number of items that airport security staff are forced to confiscate for not complying with the rules, as passengers travel with festive food, drink and gifts in their hand luggage. Commonly removed items range from perfume and toiletries to snow globes – because they contain liquid and it can be hard to be sure whether it is under 100mls in most cases - cranberry sauce and bottles of champagne.
Christmas crackers should be packed in your hold luggage as most airlines will not permit them to be carried on board in hand luggage.
Avoid gift-wrapping anything in your luggage until you reach your destination. If a bag is selected for search, security officers will need to inspect the contents – which may mean items need to be unwrapped if the security officer cannot be certain of what it inside.
Take off outer layers of clothing before you get to the front of the security queue. You’re more likely than not to be wrapped up warm as you travel over Christmas, but staff cannot screen you with multiple layers on, so coats, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves will need to go into a tray to be scanned – and waiting until you reach the front of the queue to unbutton, unzip and take these items off can significantly slow down the process. Passengers are urged to be considerate of those behind them in the queue and take these items off once they are inside the terminal.
If you require special assistance, make sure you book this in advance, through your airline. The airport provides special assistance services for passengers with disabilities through its partner ABM, such as mobility equipment and support staff to guide you through the terminal. While you can avail of these on the day of travel, passengers who have booked these services in advance will take priority, which could mean a long wait if you’re travelling during the busy Christmas period.
Ian Costigan, Chief Operating Officer of Manchester Airport, said: "We're really proud to serve the people of the North and Christmas is a really fun time of year to work at the airport as we get the privilege of being able to help people celebrate Christmas with their friends and families.
"But because the safety of our passengers will always be our number one priority, we occasionally have to play the role of Grinches by doing things like confiscating snow globes and unwrapping other people’s presents – which is no fun at all!
"So we want to remind all our passengers to make sure they plan ahead to ensure everyone has a smooth getaway this year and to make sure the only people unwrapping their presents are the people they’re meant for!"