Planning your journey - Leisurely traveller

Remember when heading to the airport was all part of the adventure? When you looked forward to watching the planes take off, browsing duty free and having a great pre-holiday meal? Hanging around the airport before a flight can be half the holiday fun; read our top tips on how to make the most out of your time at the airport.

When do I need to be at the airport?

Get to the airport with plenty of time until your flight so you can chill out and enjoy the departure lounge when you arrive.

Check-in for long haul flights (between 6-12 hours) will open approximately 4 hours before departure. For short haul services (between 2-6 hours), desks will normally open 2 to 3 hours before departure. Your airline can confirm precise check-in opening times.

Where should I park?

Visit our parking page to see the full range of parking options we offer.

If you want to get check-in as soon as you can, Valet Parking is the speediest option, while Car Parks 1, 2 & 3 are only a 2-minute walk from the terminal building. Car Park 5 is a 10-minute walk to the terminal, or you can get the free shuttle bus every 10 minutes.

If you have more time, why not do a bit of plane spotting? Within Car Park 5, signposts will direct you to the aircraft viewing area, complete with picnic benches and a great view of the runway. It’s a great way to start your holiday!

What should I eat?

What should I eat?

Getting to the airport in plenty of time means you can have a lovely meal before you board your flight. Browse our range of restaurants and cafés to find something to suit your taste and budget.

  • Spoil yourself at Bottega, with delicious prosecco and light bites.
  • Take a moment to unwind at All Bar One or Factory Bar and Kitchen, with extensive food and beverage menus.

Check out our articles on the best places to eat healthy at the airport, or how to find all the dietary options – from vegan to gluten-free.  

Helpful Tips

These top tips will ensure you enjoy your time at the airport:

  • Check in online - If you check in online before you arrive at the airport and have your boarding pass ready, all you’ll need to do is drop off any checked bags at the relevant airline ‘bag-drop’ area. Then you’re ready to go through to the departure lounge, leaving you more time to explore the airport.
  • Skip queues with our Express Lane - Less time queuing = more time enjoying the shops and restaurants in the departure lounge. Book a place in the Express Lane, a separate lane through security. You can pre-book a ticket online for £3 or pay £5 at the airport. If you’re travelling with children under 5, they whizz through for free.
  • Book into an Airport Lounge - Airport lounges are no longer reserved for the hot shots in First Class. For a small fee, our three executive lounges are a quiet sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of a busy airport. Comfortable seating, a fully- tended bar and bistro, complimentary national newspapers, glossy magazines and unlimited WiFi – our airport lounges are a place to relax and enjoy.
  • Treat yourself at World Duty Free - Our World Duty Free store has the latest products at great value prices –  from exclusive cosmetics and popular fragrances to liquor and confectionary. You can even shop online before you travel and reserve duty free items to collect in store before departure.
  • Treat yourself some more - Aerospa in the departure lounge offers high quality beauty treatments in as little as 15 minutes. Treat yourself to manicures, pedicures, brow treatments or a massage. No appointment needed.
  • Do some last-minute holiday shopping - You know those bits you kept saying you’d go and grab at lunch time but never got around to? Our shops have your back. Boots has got your sun cream and toiletries, Next has your last-minute swimwear and Dixons Travel will sort you out with plug adapters. Head to Victoria Secret for lingerie, or Superdry for a new hoodie to keep warm on the flight.
  • Order currency exchange - Head to one of the four International Currency Exchange points to sort your foreign currency. That way you’ll have your cash ready to spend as soon as you land.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I access the Airport by bus or coach?

Information on how to access the Airport by bus or coach can be found here.

How do I travel between the Airport and Birmingham International station?

Birmingham Airport is directly connected to Birmingham International station by a free 'Air-Rail Link' system. The entrance can be found on the first floor of the terminal, between Frankie & Benny’s and Burger King, before you enter security.

Can I cancel or amend my Security Express Lane booking?

You cannot cancel or amend your Express Lane booking, but all vouchers are valid for single use entry at any time up to 6 months from the date of purchase.

Can I take food such as sandwiches, crisps, chocolates and biscuits through security in my hand baggage?

Foods or powders should be packed into hold baggage where possible. Although these items are permitted in hand luggage, they can obstruct images on the x-ray machine, or may be mistaken for suspicious items, so putting them in the hold will help reduce the need for additional checks.  

Which check-in desk do I go to for my flight?

Sign posts outside the terminal building direct you to check in via doors A, B or C depending on your airline. Check-in desk numbers are displayed on the information screens. There are also several automated check-in kiosks available.

Can I print off my boarding pass at the airline desk/check- in?

Some airlines allow you to print off your boarding pass at the airline desk, but not all. You may check in/reprint/print your boarding cards at the Common User Self Service machines in the check-in areas of the airport if you are travelling with:

Air France / FlyBe / KLM UK / Aer Lingus / Brussels Airlines / Lufthansa / Turkish Airlines / Aegean.

Please contact your airline directly before travelling to confirm, as some airlines charge for printing a boarding pass or checking in at the airport.

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