How to get to Manchester Airport

Finding the most suitable way for you to get to the airport in advance ensures your trip begins smoothly; read about all the options available to help make your decision.

With Manchester Airport being the busiest UK airport outside of London, flying can feel like a stressful experience. One of the most important things to sort out before you fly is how to get to the airport efficiently and without breaking the bank. 

Manchester Airport has a multitude of public transport links and connected driving routes to choose from, helping to make your journey as easy as possible. From catching the train to parking nearby, all the different transport options are outlined in this guide, making sure you pick the right method for you.

Getting the train

Manchester Airport Railway Station is located next to Terminal 2, with it only taking ten to fifteen minutes to get to Terminals 1 and 3 using the Skylink moving walkways, making it a convenient arrival point to the airport. There are direct services to the airport railway station from cities including Carlisle, Blackpool, Liverpool, and Edinburgh. However, the majority of trains are from Manchester Piccadilly station, a regular service that takes 20 minutes. 

Manchester Piccadilly is the primary railway station in Manchester, offering cross-country and intercity services to most UK destinations such as London, Bristol, Cardiff, Newcastle, Sheffield, and Bournemouth. Many drivers will park here to move forward with their train journey as a starting point.

Tickets can be booked via Trainline, and are cheaper the further in advance you book them, or if you have a relevant railcard. The service from Manchester Piccadilly to the airport can cost as little as £3.10 if booked in advance, making it an affordable and quick travel option. Manchester Piccadilly Station has fully step-free access to all platforms, and The Station at Manchester Airport has ramps and lift access from platforms, meaning the train can be used by passengers with accessibility requirements.

Driving and parking nearby

Offering the advantage of having room for all your luggage, and the comfort of having your own space, driving is the most popular mode of transport to Manchester Airport. The airport is in close proximity to Junction 5 on the M56, with access to the M6, M60, and M62, providing easy access from key locations such as Liverpool, Chester, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton from the M6, as well as Hull and Leeds via the M62. It is important to be aware of which terminal you are flying from, as although they are within walking distance of each other, the signposts begin to differ as you approach the airport.

While driving may feel like the most convenient option when navigating to Manchester Airport, the trouble can come when trying to park your car for the duration of your trip. The airport has many car parks, however these can be costly, and can result in extra overstay fines if your plans change. JustPark offers a multitude of affordable and nearby parking options for a fraction of the cost of official airport parking spaces, as well as the ability to extend your stay simply from your phone. The local bus services can be used to get to the airport from most active JustPark spaces in the surrounding area, but the majority are within a 20-minute walk to the terminals, giving an easy route if you’re travelling with lighter luggage.

Getting the coach

Travelling by coach is often the cheapest option in airport travel, and can take the stress out of navigating to the airport yourself as you are dropped to the transport hub, where you use the Skyline walkways to navigate to your terminal. Tickets can be purchased through the National Express  or on Trainline, with direct coaches available to London, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Leeds. There are also connections to Glasgow, Nottingham and Oxford from some of these direct destinations, making Manchester Airport accessible from all corners of the UK. Depending on which airline you’re flying with – especially some of the budget-friendly options such as Ryanair and easyjet – you will want to check your connecting travel option times since flights can be at very early hours of the morning before all services start running.

Taxi services

Having the comfort of not being in the driver’s seat yourself makes taxi services a popular option for many coming to the airport. Whilst providing door-to-door convenience, if you are travelling on a budget, taxi services are usually not the most cost effective option. There is a free dropoff zone at Manchester Airport, however there is a cost of £5 for five minutes to get dropped outside your terminal, increasing up to £6 for ten minutes, and results in a fine of £25 if you stay longer than ten minutes. These extra charges reinforce the need to research and plan your journey ahead to see if there is an efficient and cost effective way to travel via public transport, or parking nearby, as it could save you money to spend on your holiday. 

If there’s no suitable public transport options available, taking a taxi is a useful, and usually stress-free alternative method of travel. However, it is important to be aware of price surges around peak times especially when using ride share services such as Bolt and Uber, as well as ensuring to book in advance so you have a local driver available to you. 

Coming locally from Greater Manchester 

Since the airport is located just nine miles outside of the city centre, residents of Manchester and its surrounding areas can easily travel to the airport in a number of ways. Manchester Airport itself encourages cycling to the airport, and has maps available of safe routes from the city centre. There are designated bicycle parking areas, or you can even fly with your bike on the majority of airlines (at an added cost).

Manchester is also known for its extensive Metrolink tram services that link up the city and its surroundings, and the airport lies at the end of the Navy line, with direct access from Manchester Victoria Station. You can use the Metrolink journey planner to see which tram route will get you to the airport more efficiently. The trams arrive in The Station, where the trains and coaches also arrive, and this is equipped with lifts, escalators, and accessible boarding points, making these transport options available to everyone.

Local bus services also go through nearby towns such as Wythenshawe, Buxton, and Stockport, and you can plan your journey using Stagecoach with regular services at only a £2 cost for a single ticket. Many of these services run 24 hours a day, making them a convenient and affordable option for an early morning or late night flight.

After having read this information, you should be ready to make an informed decision about which method of transport to Manchester Airport is most suitable for you and your trip. Planning in advance offers lower prices, and removes stress on the day of your flight, allowing you to focus on enjoying the journey ahead.  

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