What to know when travelling from Manchester Airport, from airport lounges to shopping and more

Manchester Airport: How to Spend a Layover Here

If you have a layover at Manchester Airport, you're in luck! We've compiled a guide with great options to help you pass the time.

Got a layover at Manchester Airport? Layovers can be long, boring, and uncomfortable. They usually consist of broken sleeps, sore necks, Burger King, and bleary eyes. But our guide gives you the key to spending that time wisely, whether you want to sleep or shop. Here’s how to spend a layover at Manchester Airport: the rundown of the terminals, lounges, food and drink, and shopping.

Know before you go: How many terminals are at Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport is the UK’s third-largest airport serving over 2.3 million passengers in 2022 – 88% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers. It’s a major hub for international travel. There are three terminals, all conveniently close by. Terminals 1 and 2 are connected by a Skylink with moving walkways to help with the 10–15-minute walk, while Terminals 1 and 3 are just a few minutes’ walk from one another via the Skylink.

Food and Drink

There’s a great selection of food and drink options at Manchester Airport, from fast food to pub grub. Currently, there are no 24-hour food options at Manchester Airport. All restaurants, fast-food spots, and coffee shops have varying opening hours, but most places will be open between the hours of 4am and 9pm. These times are subject to change depending on the day. However, the Grain Loft in Terminal 1 is open from 6am until 4am, serving food and drinks every day. Passengers can also pick up hot and cold sandwiches, snacks, and drinks at Spar – there’s a shop in all three terminals. 

Terminal 1

Food and drink at Manchester Airport Terminal 1:


Burger King

Café Balzar




Pret a Manger


The Grain Loft

Upper Crust

Terminal 2

Terminal 2 recently went through a makeover, and that included bringing some new food and drink options to the airport. They’ve got great Manchester brands, including Pot Kettle Black and Bridgewater Exchange. Food and drink at Manchester Airport Terminal 2:

Amber Alehouse




Bridgewater Exchange


Pot Kettle Black

Pret a Manger

San Carlo


M&S Simply Food




Terminal 3

Terminal 3 is the smallest terminal and therefore has the most limited options for food and drink. Food and drink at Manchester Airport Terminal 3:

Caffe Nero




Pork & Pickle

The Lion and Antelope

The Nook

Trattoria Milano

Rest in a VIP Lounge

The terminals can be chaotic so why not treat yourself to a VIP lounge? Long layovers are made considerably better by air-conditioned spaces, Wi-Fi, and complimentary food and drink. Bear in mind that airport lounges typically allocate a time of maximum 3 hours to passengers and some lounges require visitors to pre-book online.

There are 7 lounges at Manchester Airport: 

Terminal 1 

Aspire Lounge 

Escape Lounge


Terminal 2 

Aspire Lounge

Escape Lounge

1902 Lounge

Terminal 3 

Escape Lounge

The most affordable airport lounge is the Escape Lounge in Terminal 1 – passengers get access to the complimentary hot and cold buffet, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. There’s also Wi-Fi, a quiet zone, TVs, and work areas complete with printers and photocopiers. The most expensive airport lounge is (unsurprisingly) Emirates. While a four-hour stay here will cost nearly £100, there are showers, workstations with computers, and of course, excellent food and drinks.

Click here for the best deals on Manchster Airport Lounges. 

Where are the best places to sleep at Manchester Airport?

Sometimes you can find a quiet corner to get a few hours of shut-eye, but even the deepest of sleepers will be interrupted by the clatter and chatter of an airport. Manchester Airport is busy at all hours – make sure you have earphones, headphones, or good earplugs. 

What’s the best terminal to get some sleep?

Head to the boarding area of Terminal 1 and you’ll find chairs without armrests. There are usually people trying to get some rest here, but it will be loud. Terminal 2 has good seats for resting in the Arrival Hall, but we think Terminal 1 is the best for lying down. 

Should I book a VIP lounge?

While VIP lounges are usually quiet and great places to get some shut-eye, they close for most of the night. Most of them open at 4 am, so there is the opportunity for some rest if your flight is overnight. 

What hotels are nearby?

If you have a long, overnight layover and can’t face sleeping in the terminals, there are some hotels nearby. 

  • The most convenient hotel is the Radisson Blu Manchester Airport. It’s connected to both Terminals 1 and 2 via the Skylink walkway. 
  • Clayton Hotel Manchester Airport is also within the airport complex. It’s a five-minute walk from Terminal 1 and offers a free 24-hour shuttle.
  • Other hotels that have free shuttle buses running to and from the airport are: Ibis Budget Manchester Airport, Holiday Inn Manchester Airport, Delta Hotels by Marriott Manchester Airport, and Airport Inn & Spa Manchester.

Book your Manchester Airport Hotel here. 

Duty-Free Shopping

Fancy passing the time with some retail therapy? Make the most of the savings when shopping in World Duty Free. It’s your one-stop-shop for all things luxury, including perfume, makeup, skincare, sweet treats, alcohol, and more – all for an exclusive, tax-free price. All three terminals have a good Duty Free section and luckily for layover passengers, they’re open 24 hours a day. 

Other Shopping

There are some retail outlets across the terminals, too. All three terminals have Boots, and Terminal 2 has Accessorize and JD Sports stores for a quick peruse while you wait. But if you really want to browse around the shops, head to Terminal 1 – it has the same shops as Terminal 2, as well as Jo Malone London, Timberland, Hugo Boss, and more. 


While there isn’t much in the way of entertainment at Manchester Airport, there is the famous Runway Visitor Park. It’s right next to the runway, with raised viewing so you can watch the planes take off and land. You can bring food from the airport and have a picnic on the grass or grab a coffee and a snack from the RVP coffee house. There are some retro, retired planes too, including the Concorde G-BOAC and a Nimrod. The most common way to while away those hours before the flight is by watching a film on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Bear in mind that free Wi-Fi is only available at Manchester Airport for up to 4 hours within a 24-hour period – you’ll connect to the ‘_FreeWifi’ network to access it. After that, you can pay for the faster, premium network – it’s £5 per hour, £10 per day, or £30 per month. 

Family services

Travelling with the kids can be hard enough, let alone during a long layover. But you can make the process a bit smoother. If you’re travelling with really little ones, you can pre-order baby milk at Boots. You can warm up the milk in the various coffee shops across the airport – Starbucks or Pret a Manger in Terminal 1; Costa, Starbucks, or Pret a Manger in Terminal 2; Caffe Nero or Costa in Terminal 3. Alternatively, mothers can use the breastfeeding facility in Terminal 1. Families with pushchairs can also get through security quicker with free fast lane service. 

For families with older children, you can let them burn off their energy before the flight at the children’s play area in Terminal 2. It’s just beside Gate 213 and is open 24 hours a day.

Got extra time?

If you’ve got a particularly long layover, you might not want to be confined to the airport walls. Especially in a city as vibrant as Manchester. In most cases, you can leave the airport during a layover – some nationalities will need a transit visa, so be sure to check. Bear in mind that you will need to go through immigration, customs, and security when you return, so we encourage you to take timings into account and weigh up if a trip to the city is worth it during the layover. If you have plenty of time and decide that is worth it, then great!

Manchester is a buzzing city with lots to explore. Trains regularly run from Manchester Airport to the city and only take around 15 minutes. Soak up some of the highlights in your short visit – take a sunny walk around Islington Marina, hop around the coffee shops of Northern Quarter, and grab a bite to eat in Ancoats. 

General information

  • There are four multifaith prayer rooms at the airport across all three terminals. There are Muslim prayer mats, religious prayer books, and separate washing facilities for Muslim passengers. The washing facilities are in Terminals 2 and 3. 
  • Passengers can refresh up at the Radisson Hotel during their layover – it’s £6.50 to use the shower and changing facilities, and £12.50 use the leisure facilities, shower, and changing facilities. 
  • There are designated smoking areas in Terminals 1 & 2. 


What airport lounges exist and are they worth it?

There’s a scale with airport lounges – fancy lounges that are either not available to the general public or cost a lot of money, and lounges that everyone is welcome to use for a fee. If you’re planning on eating and drinking at the airport, then booking an airport lounge is worth it. Airports tend to have higher prices for food and drink, particularly alcohol, so make the most of the complimentary food and drink at an airport lounge. Additionally, passengers can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the terminals by relaxing in a quiet, comfortable lounge. 

What fast-track products exist and are they worth it? 

There are two common fast-track products – security fast-track and passport control fast-track. The security fast track lets you skip the queue and head straight to the security checkpoint – it’s fairly affordable so it is worth it for busy periods at the airport. Passport control fast track allows you to get home faster after getting off a flight – while everyone else is in the busy and congested passport control lane, you can use a dedicated lane smoothly and quicky. If your flight is arriving at a particularly busy time, you’ve just come off a long flight, or you’ve got young children with you, we think booking the passport control fast track is worth it. 

How many terminals are at Manchester Airport?

There are three terminals at Manchester Airport. All of them are conveniently close to one another. 

Does Manchester Airport have smoking areas?

Manchester Airport has three smoking areas. There’s a smoking area before security in Terminal 3, and a smoking area after security in both Terminals 1 and 2.

When should I book for the best prices at Manchester Airport?

Book at least one month in advance to get the best prices at Manchester Airport. Prices increase the closer you get to your departure date, so it’s best to book as soon as possible.

How early should I arrive to park my car at Manchester Airport?

If you’re parking your car at Manchester Airport, be sure to arrive at least 3 hours before an international flight and 2 hours before a domestic flight.

What happens if my flight is cancelled at Manchester Airport?

  • Flight cancellations are stressful and frustrating. Here’s what to do if your flight is cancelled at Manchester Airport: 
  • Make sure you have proof of your cancelled flight – whether that’s an email or text from the airline.
  • Ask the airline what they plan to do about the cancelled flight – are they booking you a new flight or refunding you?
  • Keep receipts of meals, hotels, and transport costs incurred as a result of the cancelled flight to reimburse them with the airline.
  • Do not agree to a partial refund if you’re not happy with the amount – you could waive your right to compensation if you agree to a sum.