Leeds Bradford Airport queues: Passenger's advice on when to arrive after facing long waits caused by security staffing 'fiasco'

A Leeds Bradford Airport passenger has shared his advice for other travellers flying out in the days ahead after spending hours in the huge queues to get through security.
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Richard Horsman, a former radio news editor, took to Twitter to give a detailed account of what it is like for passengers, how long they can expect to wait and how staff are coping with the "complete fiasco" caused by a shortage of security staff at the airport.

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Holidaymakers have recently described seeing families crying and people feeling faint as they stand waiting for hours, all the while worrying that they could miss their flights.

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Passengers in the queue outside Leeds Bradford Airport when Richard Horsman arrived to catch a flight. Picture: Richard HorsmanPassengers in the queue outside Leeds Bradford Airport when Richard Horsman arrived to catch a flight. Picture: Richard Horsman
Passengers in the queue outside Leeds Bradford Airport when Richard Horsman arrived to catch a flight. Picture: Richard Horsman

As increasing numbers of passengers return to the skies, airports including Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) have been racing to hire and train up new staff after letting many workers go during the height of the pandemic.

Those flying from LBA were this week being encouraged to arrive at the earliest time allowed by their airline and to help minimise delays by preparing for the security screening process.

What's it like to fly out from Leeds Bradford Airport right now?

Check-in for Mr Horsman's flight started at 5am and he arrived at 5.19am to find the situation inside "as bad as expected", with the queue for security running the full length of the terminal.

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He had dropped his bags off by 5.42am and then joined the queue which had grown "a lot longer" since he arrived, meaning he was standing outside in the rain.

Around 10 minutes later, he was back inside and wrote in his Twitter thread: "Queue now snakes round about four loops before setting off on the walk down the terminal. Don't want to jinx it but moving a bit faster now."

He later said: "Movement seems to be episodic. Nothing for ages and then a big move forward. Someone with a clipboard is shouting for more people to come forward but no idea which flight as inaudible."

It was not until 6.47am that he reached the actual check-in area, which he described as "another maze of theme park style queuing area" that leads to the entrance to the security area.

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Mr Horsman entered the corridor heading for the security gates around 15 minutes later - a total of 104 minutes since arriving at the airport.

Fifty minutes later, he made it to the gate for his flight and was ready to board at 7.52am for an 8.30am departure. The whole process had taken him two hours and 33 minutes.

"The actual experience in security was pretty normal," he said. "A few of the staff looked as though they might have been persuaded to return from retirement (but that's pure speculation). Two lines, one for FastTrack one for hoi polloi."

How are staff at the airport coping?

Mr Horsman said most people waiting in the queues seemed good-humoured and there had been no signs of anger or aggression towards the staff.

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While in the queue, he said the Jet2 staff were "lovely" and noted: "This #LeedsBradfordAirport balls-up isn't their fault. Woman in red jacket checking the line to make sure there's no-one in danger of missing their flight. Asking everyone's destination."

As he prepared to board his flight, he wrote: "The @jet2tweets people have been fabulous throughout. The @LBIAirport staff on the ground are doing their best in difficult circumstances.

"As for the #LeedsBradfordAirport management that allowed this complete fiasco to happen - make up your own mind."

When should passengers arrive at Leeds Bradford Airport?

The airport has advised people to arrive for the earliest time allowed by their airline and Jet2 advised Mr Horsman to arrive three hours before the flight.

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Having experienced the queues firsthand, he said would recommend passengers allow at least three hours to be processed.

He added: "If we'd only allowed two, we'd still be stuck in the last bit of the security queue. With 22 minutes to take-off."

The airport issued an apology earlier this month to those impacted by the lack of security staff available to process passengers at the airport.

In a statement, it said: "We’re working hard to overcome these challenges with ongoing recruitment and training activities and more staff being released to the operation from training each week.

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"Unfortunately, these current challenges are an industry wide problem, caused by the speed of withdrawal of travel restrictions and testing which has led to the rapid recovery of international travel.

"We are actively managing queues to pull people to the front as their flights near departure, which ensures that very few passengers have missed flights."