Manchester Airport (MAN IATA) is one of the busiest and largest airports in Europe. The airport is located in the south of Manchester, in the North West of England and is an excellent gateway to the north of the United Kingdom. It is a hub for low-cost airline Flybe.
The city of Manchester often lays claim to the title of 'second city' in the United Kingdom and, in the airport stakes at least, this claim is well and truly justified — this is the second-largest airport in the UK, and third busiest, and is amongst the 50 largest airports in the world. Nearly 100 operators fly to and from nearly 200 locations worldwide, including most major cities in Europe, along with services to the Americas, Africa, and Asia.
With a history dating back to before the Second World War, Manchester (previously [and still occasionally!] known as 'Ringway') bears testament to many architectural 'styles'. In some places, the combination of moulded grey plastics and psychedelic carpet patterns makes for a heady 1980s experience, but much of the airport has been renovated and redeveloped.
Unlike the UK's largest airport, Heathrow, Manchester is municipally owned by the 10 Greater Manchester Councils with Manchester City council having the largest share (55%) and the other councils 5% each. For every M&M dispenser and multi-pack of cigarettes (as well as anything else) you buy, you're probably saving someone, somewhere, some money on their council tax!
Manchester Airport has three terminals: Terminals 1 and 2 are linked by a 'Skylink' (neon Tron-style bridge), with 'travellators' to whisk you along and shorten the otherwise 10-15 minute walk. Terminal 3 is linked to Terminal 1 and the Skylink by an (admittedly more mundane) covered walkway. Terminal 1 is the largest at the airport, and handles the majority of European and International flights, along with Terminal 2. The third terminal is used primarily for domestic and Western European flights. The Skylink also connects all terminals to the airport railway station complex, somewhat unimaginatively known as 'The Station' (see below).
Manchester Airport serves 199 destinations around the world, more than Heathrow, and as such its departure boards offer a wide selection of exotic (and less exotic) places to visit. Indeed, for an airport located outside a nation's capital, MAN's intercontinental connections are impressive. The airport is also home to a large number of British charter flight operators, including Thomson, Thomas Cook and Jet2, as well as more prestigious carriers like British Airways, Emirates, Etihad and Lufthansa.
Avoiding the Security Queues at Terminal 1
Manchester Airport is infamous for its long queues at security during busy periods. Luckily there's a little known way to potentially skip the queues in terminal 1. The departures check in area is split into A and B, each with their own security area. Departures B has desks solely for Jet2 flight check in, however the security area is open to anyone and remains open even when there are no Jet2 flights departing. As a result security at Departures B can often be empty whilst huge queues exist at Departures A.
1 Terminal 1 — Chartered and scheduled flights across Europe and the rest of the world operated by airlines including: Aer Lingus, EasyJet, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eurowings, Jet2, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, TAP Air Portugal, Swiss and Turkish Airlines.
2 Terminal 2 — Chartered and scheduled flights to mainly intercontinental destinations, but also some European ones. Airlines include: Air Canada, Air Malta, Cathay Pacific, Pakistan International Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, TUI Airways, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
3 Terminal 3 — Scheduled domestic, European and some intercontinental flights. Operators include: Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Flybe, Iberia, KLM and Ryanair.
At busy periods it has been known for queues of as much as 2 hours to form at the security check, therefore it is advised to leave plenty of time before your flight departs, even for internal and short-haul flights.
Located fairly centrally within the United Kingdom, Manchester Airport is well situated for transportation to the rest of the country.
Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.
Direct trains run from the airport station (reached by the 'Skyway' between terminals 1 and 2) to Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations; the fare to the city is £4, and the trip takes about 20 minutes. Some of the trains continue to destinations north of Manchester, but most onward destinations require a change at Piccadilly. Trains tail off at about midnight, though the number 43 bus continues throughout the night.
Transpennine Express trains run from the airport station to Carlisle and on to either Edinburgh or Glasgow 12 to 15 times per day. Trains to York via Leeds run up to twice per hour, with some trains continuing to Newcastle upon Tyne or Middlesbrough. Trains to Stockport, Sheffield, Doncaster and Scunthorpe run every hour.
A Metrolink line allows direct, if slow, travel between the city centre and the airport on the Manchester tram system. It's particularly useful for travel to the south and west of Greater Manchester, but a journey to the city centre will take about an hour, involving around 22 stops. An adult single ticket to the Central Zone costs £4.20. Line 6 from the airport operates at a frequency of every 12 minutes between 6AM and midnight, and passes through the city centre, terminating at Victoria station between these times. The same line runs a reduced service of every 20 minutes between 3AM and 6AM, but only goes as far as Deansgate-Castlefield, on the western edge of the city centre. There is no Metrolink service from the airport between midnight and 3AM.
You can also catch a coach/bus to Manchester Central Coach station.
|Bus and coach services calling at Manchester Airport (Places in bold are where services terminate)|
|18||Arriva North West||The Trafford Centre via Wythenshawe, Sale and Stretford||D|
|Altrincham via Hale||K|
|19||Arriva North West||Altrincham via Wythenshawe, Sale and Ashton-upon-Mersey||G|
|43||Stagecoach Manchester||Manchester Piccadilly via Wythenshawe, Northenden, West Didsbury, Withington and Fallowfield||E|
|44||Hayton's Coaches||Manchester Piccadilly via Gatley, Cheadle, East Didsbury, Withington and Fallowfield||D|
|Manchester Airport Cargo Centre||K|
|105||Stagecoach Manchester||Manchester Piccadilly via Wythenshawe, Northenden, Southern Cemetery and Moss Side||F|
|199||Trent Barton||Buxton via Stockport, Hazel Grove and Chapel-en-le-Frith||J|
|200||Swan's Travel||Wilmslow via Styal||H|
|Manchester Airport Viewing Park||J|
|369||Stagecoach Manchester||Stockport via Wythenshawe, Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Adswood||H|
|X69||Stagecoach Manchester||Stockport via Heald Green, Cheadle Hulme and Adswood (one late night journey only)||H|
|060||National Express||Liverpool via M62 motorway||B|
|Leeds via Manchester and Bradford (some)||C|
|325||National Express||Birmingham via Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton||A|
|Manchester Chorlton Street Coach Station||C|
|328||National Express||Plymouth via Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Bristol||A|
|Rochdale via Manchester and Oldham||C|
|333||National Express||Bournemouth via Stoke-on-Trent and Bristol||A|
|Blackpool via Manchester, Bolton and Preston||B|
|336||National Express||Penzance via Stoke-on-Trent and Bristol||A|
|Edinburgh via Preston, Lancaster and Glasgow||B|
|341||National Express||Birmingham via Wolverhampton||A|
|Burnley via Manchester, Bolton and Blackburn||B|
|Clacton via Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester and Ipswich||C|
|380||National Express||Bangor via Liverpool||B|
|Newcastle upon Tyne via Manchester, Oldham (some), Bradford (some), Leeds, York and Middlesbrough||C|
|Newcastle upon Tyne via Manchester, Oldham, Bradford and Leeds||C|
|383||National Express||Edinburgh via Manchester, Oldham, Bradford, Leeds and Newcastle upon Tyne||C|
|422||National Express||London Victoria Coach Station via Birmingham||A|
|Burnley via Manchester, Bolton and Blackburn||B|
|538||National Express||Coventry via Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton and Birmingham||A|
|Inverness via Manchester, Preston, Glasgow and Aberdeen||B|
|540||National Express||London Victoria Coach Station via M6 motorway||A|
|Colne via Bolton, Blackburn and Burnley||B|
|880||Eurolines||Dublin via Liverpool and Holyhead||B|
The airport is a 20-minute drive from Manchester city centre and is reached by the M56 motorway, with a dedicated approach road from the motorway at junction 5. The M56 is the main route used by traffic to reach the airport. There are also minor local roads serving the airport from the north (Wythenshawe) and the east (Heald Green). Taxis are available from outside each terminal, costing about £15 and taking about 30-45 minutes to reach the city centre.
|Address||On/Off Airport||Distance / Transfer Time||Security||Additional Information|
|Long Stay Parking (T1-3)||Manchester Airport,
|On||0.5 miles/ 800 metres/ 5 minutes||Security lighting and fencing, entry/exit barriers and 24-hour security patrols.||Maximum vehicle height of 2.2 metres. Trailers are not permitted.|
|Long Stay Parking (T2)||Manchester Airport,
|On||0.5 miles / 800 metres/ 5 minutes||Security lighting, perimeter fencing, entry/exit barriers and 24-hour security patrols.||Maximum vehicle height of 2.2 metres. Trailers are not permitted.|
|Short Stay Parking (All terminals)||Manchester Airport,
|On||.2 miles / 300 metres/ Walking distance||CCTV, entry/exit barriers and regular security patrols.||Maximum vehicle height is 2 metres. Trailers are not permitted.|
|Multi-Storey Parking (All terminals)||Manchester Airport Terminals 1-3,
|On||.2 miles / 300 metres/ Walking distance||CCTV, entry/exit barriers and regular security patrols.||Maximum vehicle height of 2 metres. Trailers are not permitted.|
|Airparks Manchester Ringway||Isherwood Road,Carrington, Wilmslow, Manchester, M31 4RA||Off||4 miles / 6km / 15mins transfer||CCTV, security fencing and regular security patrols.||No trailers are allowed. Maximum vehicle height of 2.10m|
|Manchester Shuttle Park||Styal Road, Manchester, M90 1QX||Off||3 miles / 5 km/ 10mins transfer||CCTV, security fencing and regular security patrols.||No trailers are allowed.|
|APH Manchester||Bradnor Road, Sharston Industrial Area, Manchester, M22 4TE||Off||5mins transfer||CCTV, Barrier controlled entrance and exit system, Breaker Beams, 24 hour security patrols, Park Mark Safer Parking Award.||2.4 metre height restriction. No trailers are allowed.|
This is a large airport, but by no means on the same scale as Heathrow Airport in London. The distance from check-in to gate is comparatively short and all but the most inconvenient of flights will require less than 15 minutes of walking to reach the appropriate gate. This is especially true in Terminals 1 and 2, which are less convoluted in layout than the smaller but more complicated Terminal 3. All terminals are connected by 'skylinks', and 'travellators' are used across much of the airport to expedite your journey. Buses connect the airport's car parks with the terminal buildings.
Connections at the airport are conducted through separate channels to conventional arrivals and, as such, you do not need to reclaim your baggage before boarding your next flight.
The vast majority of shops and eateries are beyond the security check in all of the terminals at Manchester Airport so, in comparison with other airports, there is little point loitering in the check-in hall.
Manchester has passenger lounges in all terminals, some of which are available for a fee:
- Escape Lounges (Terminals 1,2 & 3), ☎ . Lounge with free drinks and snacks, but extra charge for hot main dishes. £22.50 pre-booked, £27.50 on the day for up to 3 hours access.
- Etihad Airways
- Virgin Holidays
- British Airways
- 1903. Su-F: 4:15AM-8:30PM, Sa 4:15AM-7:30PM. The lounge has a complimentary buffet food and drink (including alcoholic beverages), printing and scanning facilities and unlimited Wi-Fi. Also a fast track security pass is included in the price. People under 16 years of age and groups larger than four are not allowed. £35 pre-booked, £40 turn-up.
Eat and drink
All the terminals at Manchester Airport are well-equipped to suit all tastes and provide a range of culinary 'experiences'.
Terminal 1 is home to a variety of eateries, including fast food vendors such as Burger King, table-service restaurants like Giraffe, the Grain Loft pub and coffee shops like Starbucks.
There is a drinking water fountain in Terminal 1 right after the security check before you enter the duty free shopping area, where you can refill your empty water bottles.
Terminal 2 provides a great number of different places to seek refreshment and sate even the largest of appetites: from fast food at yet another Burger King to Italian-American fare at Frankie and Benny's and pub fare at the Spinning Jenny via the caffeine dispensary Caffè Nero for those of you taking early morning flights.
Terminal 3 also caters to a great variety of tastes. Costa Coffee provides the normal range of hot beverages and snacks, whilst The Food Village offers quick food for those in a hurry. If you have a little more time on your hands Terminal 3 is also home to Trattoria Milano — an Italian restaurant, and the Lion and Antelope a pub with hot food. The pub serves drinks from the first flight, and caters well to the stags and hens prior to boarding their holiday flights.
Manchester Airport has a wide variety of shopping options for the retail-conscious including the obligatory 'duty-free' shop (only tax-free for flights outside of the European Union!).
Each terminal has a branch of the ubiquitous (at least in airports) Dixons (a consumer electronics retailer), where you can pick up travel adapters and, should you so desire, a 52 inch plasma screen television to take on your flight with you. There is also a branch of the British high-street chemist Boots in each terminal, for last-minute aspirin, travel-adapters and rather nice (and fairly priced) pre-packaged sandwiches. The high-street newsagent WHSmith also maintains a presence in each of Manchester's terminals (to the extent at which one can barely move for branches). Smith's (as it's also known) is the place to grab a newspaper (outrageous British tabloid or more respectable broadsheet), magazine, book or drink, as well as yet more all-important travel adapters.
British clothing retailers also operate at Manchester Airport. Monsoon (Terminals 1 & 2) and Next (Terminal 1) offer popular high-street fashions if you've neglected to bring any clothes.
Signal on UK mobile networks is normally good within the airport area and payphones are available in each of the airport's terminals.
Wi-Fi is free throughout the airport for up to 60 minutes every 24 hours. A 'premium' service is also available which offers service beyond that, as well as faster download speeds, and allows for heavier usage — perfect for watching industrial quantities of YouTube videos before your flight. Prices are £5 for an hour, £10 per day and £30 per month.
Shower facilities are located in Terminal 2, and cost £6.50 per person. Two multi-faith prayer rooms are situated in Terminals 2 and 3. Terminals 1 and 2 offer outdoor air-side smoking areas to comply with the United Kingdom's smoking ban.
Facilities for withdrawing and exchanging money are readily available in each of the terminals. The Raphaels Bank cash machine at the airport offers such an appalling conversion rate that, far from being "free of charge" as claimed, you pay exorbitantly to use it.
- 1 Airport Inn Manchester (Next to the runway at Manchester Airport, less than 10 minutes from the terminals), ☎ .
- 2 Radisson Blu Hotel Manchester Airport, Chicago Ave, Hale, M90 3RA, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Leisure facilities and meeting rooms. Stunning views in Business Class with direct access to its own station and to Manchester Airport. Wi-Fi is charged for. Restaurant and lavishly equipped health club. £75-250.
- 3 Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport, Ringway Road, Wythenshawe, Hale, M90 3NS (http://www.cpmanchesterairporthotel.co.uk/hotel/locations-and-directions.html), ☎ (premium rate number from most mobile phones), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Located on the Manchester Airport complex, this four-star hotel offers accommodation with easy access to the M56, M60 and M62.
- 4 Clayton Hotel Manchester Airport (formerly Bewleys Hotel), Outwood Lane, Hale, M90 4HL, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
- 5 Etrop Grange, Thorley Lane (Two minutes' drive from the airport), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Meals are available at this hotel's bar & grill for an extra charge. A complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport runs from 5AM to 10PM. £90 per night.
- 6 Hilton Manchester Airport, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
Manchester Airport is a gateway not just to the city of Manchester, a post-industrial gem, but the entire British Isles. The airport is centrally located for the Greater Manchester area, as well as the entirety of Northern England. There are good rail connections from Scotland and a gruesome coach service.
The Manchester Airport Visitor Park is located on the south-western side of the airport and is well worth a visit for any aviation enthusiast. It's home to the flagship of the British Airways Concorde fleet, and offers excellent views over the airport apron, taxiways and runways.
The Airport Hotel is a pub on Ringway Road about 0.5 mi (800 m) from the airport. Its beer garden overlooks the east end of Taxiway J and the eastern threshold of runway 23R which are only 50 ft (15 m) away and provides good views of east-west landing approaches and some take-off rolls.
|Routes through Manchester Airport|
|Central Manchester/Stockport ← Cheadle ←||N W||→ Altrincham → Chester|