British Airways and Ryanair confirmed that as a result of the queues at check-in and security, some passengers on short-haul flights to European destinations were spending more time in airport terminals than in the air.
Airlines are in open revolt at the service they are being given by airports who they claim are failing to recruit enough staff despite raking in millions of pounds in fees from operators.
Yesterday the average time passengers spent getting through check-in and security at Heathrow was 90 minutes - the time it would take to fly to Barcelona or Nice - according to figures gathered by the independent Travel Counsellors company.
....While passengers face frustration, airports are cashing in. Liverpool John Lennon is even charging £2 for anyone who wants to use a special fast track check-in " with four lanes - while those not willing to pay have to share two.
....The security regime has even created havoc for pilots. A spokesman for the British Airline Pilots' Association, said: "Passengers don't realise that pilots have to go through the same security procedures as they do, some of which are plain daft. Pilots are told to take off their belts and shoes, before getting on to planes which are loaded with fuel, which are real weapons of mass destruction."