Revealed: the UK’s busiest airport terminals

Hate ram-packed transport hubs? Best avoid these

Charmaine Wong
Written by
Charmaine Wong
Contributor, Time Out Travel
Heathrow terminal five, London
Photograph: Christian Ouellet /

Who on Earth likes busy airports? When transport hubs are rammed with people, they’re louder, hotter and smellier. The queues are longer and, in general, thing are even more stressful than they need to be. In the past few months we’ve seen air travel in the UK return to pre-pandemic levels – and with that, there’s been a return to past levels of busyness, too. 

But which UK airport terminals are the busiest right now? To find out, the Independent has looked into passenger arrivals and departures in September 2023 for different terminals across the country. 

Unsurprisingly, Heathrow Terminal 5 took the top spot.  As the main hub for long-haul flights from British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines (just to name a few), T5 recorded over 100,000 passengers in September alone. Heathrow’s Terminals 3 and 2 ranked similarly highly, coming in at fifth and sixth respectively. 

Second place went to Stansted Airport, which has just the one terminal, while third and fourth were Gatwick North and South. Any longtime readers of TO’s plane content will remember that back in August Stansted was revealed as the fastest UK air hub to bounce back from the pandemic

These were the busiest airport terminals in the UK in September 2023, according to the Independent.

  1. Heathrow Terminal 5
  2. Stansted
  3. Gatwick North
  4. Gatwick South
  5. Heathrow Terminal 3
  6. Heathrow Terminal 2
  7. Luton
  8. Edinburgh
  9. Manchester Terminal 1
  10. Manchester Terminal 2
  11. Bristol
  12. Birmingham
  13. Glasgow
  14. Heathrow Terminal 4
  15. Manchester Terminal 3
  16. Belfast International

Airports can be pretty chaotic places – but love ‘em or hate ‘em, most of us have to use them to go on holiday. We at Time Out are always on top of what’s happening in airports across the country, whether that be the UK airports with the longest flight delays, how to skip security queues in Heathrow and why 2023 is the year you should finally ditch flying

Did you see that there will soon be a new way of getting the train from London to Paris – and it’s not Eurostar?

Plus: this gorgeous old train station in England is now for sale.

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