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The 11 Worst European Airports for Security Queues - June Edition
We analysed data from some of the largest airports in Europe, to give you the 11 worst for security queue wait times.
We analysed security wait times from 31 of the largest airports in Europe, to find the 11 worst for wait times
The airport with the longest average wait time is Hamburg (HAM)
Security queue wait times have gone up 13% since March
The World Economic Forum predicts that air travel in Europe will reach approximately 96% of its pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. However, last summer, numerous European travellers encountered extensive security queues lasting for several hours at various airports. This summer, we are collectively optimistic for a more streamlined airport experience. Nevertheless, potential factors such as strikes by Heathrow security staff and French air traffic control, combined with the surge in passenger numbers, may lead to similar lengthy security wait times.
Qsensor.co employs ongoing monitoring of security queue wait times at several major airports in Europe. Our analysis focuses on hourly averages recorded over the past month, which were subsequently compiled into daily averages. The following is a summary of our findings:
Average wait time: 5 minutes and 36 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 5 & 9 AM - 7 minutes and 52 seconds
During the summer of 2022, Amsterdam Schiphol became infamous for it’s multi-hour long security queues. The airport has since implemented various measures to better manage passengers, including restricting the number of daily flights permitted.
Average wait time: 5 minutes and 51 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 5 AM - 12 minutes and 26 seconds
According to consumer advice publication Which?, Leeds Bradford was the UK's worst airport in terms of security queue wait times in 2022. Between February and August of that year, passengers experienced an average wait time of 35 minutes. However, there is good news for 2023, as the wait times have significantly improved and are currently averaging at 5 minutes and 51 seconds, well below the previous year's levels.
Average wait time: 6 minutes and 28 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 7 AM - 12 minutes and 17 seconds
Like Amsterdam, Dublin struggled to cope with the surge in demand that followed the relaxing of Covid-related restrictions. The airport has put in a number of initiatives to aimed at minimising wait times. The longest wait time observed during the June bank holiday weekend was 30 minutes.
Average wait time: 6 minutes and 32 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 9 AM - 13 minutes and 52 seconds
Originally opened in
2011 2020, Berlin Brandenburg replaced the temporary structure known as Berlin Tegel. The airport has rapidly grown to become Germany’s 3rd largest, serving almost 20 million passengers in 2022.
Average wait time: 6 minutes and 53 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 4 PM - 12 minutes and 52 seconds
Manchester Airport, the second largest airport in the UK outside of London, faced consistent issues with lengthy security queues throughout 2022. Fortunately, in 2023, the situation has improved significantly, wait times don’t often peak above 30 minute and are mostly well below that.
For travellers departing during peak hours, specifically between 5 AM and 7 AM and 2 PM and 5 PM, it is advisable to opt for the fast track service.
Average wait time: 7 minutes 17 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 7 AM - 14 minutes and 43 seconds
Coming in 6th, Copenhagen Kastrup had a pre-pandemic passenger volume of 30 million. Our recommendation for CPH is to avoid the early-mid morning and late-early evening commuter rushes.
Average wait time: 7 minutes and 19 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 11 AM and 12 PM - 10 minutes and 8 seconds
Moving into the top 5, Lyon is the third largest city in France and experiences security queues that are approximately 2.5 times longer than those in Marseille, the second largest city in France. However, it's worth noting that our monitoring does not include the airports in Paris, which may potentially have even longer wait times.
Average wait time: 7 minutes and 20 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 9 AM - 9 minutes and 17 seconds
Frankfurt Airport (FRA), which handled 70 million passengers in 2019, ranks as the fourth largest airport in Europe. Earlier this year, the airport (amongst others in Germany) experienced a series of strikes organised by the German trade union "Verdi." During peak times, particularly between 8-10 AM, wait times frequently reach 30 to 45 minutes. However, it is worth noting that the queues tend to subside relatively quickly.
Average wait time: 9 minutes and 29 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 5 AM - 17 minutes and 17 seconds
It’s top 3 time! There is a substantial, 2 minute jump between 3rd and 4th place. Bologna isn’t the biggest airport in Italy, with 9.4 million passengers handled in 2019. However, it does serve as the main hub for the Italian region, Emilia-Romagna. Like Copenhagen, this is an airport where you want to avoid the mornings and late afternoons to early evenings.
Average wait time: 10 minutes
Average highest peak wait time: 5 AM - 20 minutes and 26 seconds
In 2019, prior to the pandemic, Stuttgart Airport held the position as Germany's sixth largest airport, handling nearly 13 million passengers. It serves as the primary hub for the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Early morning flights (4 - 5 AM) are where wait times peak substantially, we would avoid flying at that time.
Average wait time: 13 minutes and 3 seconds
Average highest peak wait time: 5 AM - 29 minutes and 43 seconds
Hamburg Airport stands out significantly with the longest security queue wait times among all the European airports analysed. Passengers often experience waits of up to 40 minutes to get through security. The airport has observed a significant average wait time increase of 67% since March. In comparison to airports in the United States and Canada, Hamburg ranked 5th, making it the only European airport to make it into the top 5. We recommend pre-booking a slot at security using the "Slot & Fly" service and avoid flying in the morning.
Here are some useful tips from Qsensor that apply to all airports:
Avoid early morning flights: Contrary to popular belief, booking an early flight does not necessarily guarantee shorter queues. Qsensor consistently observes the highest wait times at most airports between 5 AM and 10 AM. It is advisable to avoid mornings whenever possible. The second highest peak, is typically during the late afternoons/early evenings - also worth avoiding if possible.
Pre-book security services: Take advantage of pre-booking security services offered by airports. This may include fast track options, which are usually available for a fee. In the US, TSA PreCheck and CLEAR, both help you navigate queues more efficiently. In Canada, the service is called Trusted Traveler.
We will return with another edition next month. If you are interested in accessing live and historical TSA, CATSA, and worldwide airport security wait times, you can find them at https://qsensor.co/.