Yet to jet off on your family summer hols? Thinking of using airport fast track to take the strain out of travelling with children?
Check the small print before booking, as we’ve found that the terms and conditions for fast track for families with children varies greatly from airport to airport. Signing up to be fast-tracked can be costly if you have children in tow, there are some airports where you just can’t use it if you’re bringing a buggy or car seat, and other airports where families don’t need to pay at all.
The facts on fast track
Most UK airports offer a quicker way to the departure gate for those willing to pay. Fast-track security services promise passengers a stress-free experience so they have more time to relax, eat and shop. You don’t get to skip the X-ray machine – everyone is subject to the same safety checks – but you should get to Departures quicker.
However, Which? research has discovered that some airports require all passengers, even babies and infants, to buy a fast-track ticket.
At Edinburgh, Glasgow and Bristol, children of any age have to pay the same price as adults which, for a family with three children, means around £20 added to your holiday spending before you’ve even hit the duty free for in-flight sweeties.
At Belfast International, under 2s go free. At East Midlands and Birmingham under 5s don’t need to pay to use fast-track security.
Travelling from London Stansted or Manchester with your little ones this summer and hoping to fast track it? If you’re bringing a pushchair or a car seat as luggage, you won’t be able to. Both of these airports state their fast-track security is ‘unsuitable for those travelling with child transport accessories.’
Also worth knowing if you’re flying from Manchester: its fast track isn’t suitable for Jet2 passengers as it’s a long way from the Jet2 terminal.
If you’re travelling from Gatwick, under 12s go through the fast track for free. But there are separate family channels for security, so it’s probably not necessary for adults to bother stumping up.
Find out more about about the pitfalls of airport fast track.
The truth about airport queuing times
But there is good news for those who can’t or don’t want to pay these extra changes – Which? research has also found that airport queue waiting times aren’t as bad as you might suspect.
Airports told us that their average waiting times at security range from 5 to 7.5 minutes. Even at the busiest times of the day, this is only 8 minutes. So, although you might occasionally be stuck behind 20 people who forgot to put their liquids in plastic bag, in most cases your journey to the X-ray machine should take less than 10 minutes
Gatwick and Heathrow, the two largest UK airports, meet a target to get 95% of passengers through security within 5 minutes. Last year Heathrow got 97% of passengers through in this time and Gatwick got 98%