As air travel opens up again in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, new measures to protect people may result in a lengthening of the time required to proceed through the airport. With this in mind, one airport in England is offering passengers the option to pre-book a 15-minute timeslot at security.

The measure is being implemented on a trial basis at Manchester Airport to allow it to manage the volume of passengers coming through security more efficiently and help keep queues shorter. By booking their free slot, passengers will receive access to a dedicated lane straight to the security checkpoint and will be able to reach the departure lounge quicker. It is part of a series of measures introduced by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to ensure passengers feel safer and more confident about travelling by air, particularly when travel demand starts to grow again in the near future.

The illuminated Skyywalk at Manchester Airport
The measure is being implemented on a trial basis at Manchester Airport © Reg Hufton Crow

The availability of slots is limited and will be operated through online booking. Passengers are encouraged to make a booking around two hours before their flight departure time. If they arrive outside the allocated time, they will not be able to access the dedicated line and will be redirected to the security queue, which may be longer than usual given the social distancing protocols the airport has put in place.

“This new measure will allow us to manage our security process more efficiently in these challenging times, providing a better and more comfortable experience for passengers," says Brad Miller, Manchester Airport's chief operating officer. ”It is the latest in a series of measures introduced by MAG to make travel safer during the pandemic, which includes asking passengers and colleagues to wear face coverings and piloting temperature screening technologies."

If the trial is successful, the technology will be put in place at the group’s other airports at London Stansted and East Midlands. Other airports will undoubtedly observe the measure's effect on queues with keen interest.

Lockdowns are easing globally as the planet adjusts to a new normal. Find out how COVID-19 is changing travel.

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