Sometimes trying to work out how to get in or out of a country can be a drag, so I created a guide to Edinburgh Airport to help. You can also find my other airport guides here.
Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s busiest and the UK’s sixth busiest airport, with an average of 30,495 passengers per day. Most of its busiest routes are to other UK airports, but both long and short haul international flights are also available.
I’m slightly biased because I’m used to the format of UK airports, but I have no problems working out what to do in Edinburgh airport – it’s modern, there are clear signs and the staff are helpful. The website is also extremely helpful. It’s probably my second favourite airport (after Gatwick, and that’s mostly nostalgic value).
I’ve got a British passport, and have only travelled to Edinburgh from London Gatwick, so I can only speak from personal experience on domestic arrivals. I’ve done some research for arrivals from elsewhere though, so I hope this will still be helpful.
Visas and Other Documents
If you’re travelling from outside the EEA, you may need a Visa to enter the United Kingdom. Check your visa requirements here.
If you’re travelling to Edinburgh on a domestic flight, you will proceed straight to baggage reclaim without having your passport checked.
If you’re arriving on an international flight, you will have your passport and supporting documents checked. There are three channels:
- EEA and Swiss Nationals
- EEA and Swiss Nationals with a chipped passport (electronic gates)
- All Other Nationalities
EEA includes all EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Irish Republic, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.
The chipped passport section is only available for over 18s, and does not work if you are travelling with an ID card. You can follow the instructions on the overhead board. From memory, taking your glasses off is a good idea!
Baggage Reclaim and Customs
After passport control (or directly from your flight if you’re arriving domestically), follow the signs to baggage reclaim. There are signs to indicate which belt you should wait at, and trolleys are free to use. Be aware that there may be more than one flight assigned to your belt. Now is a good time to practice all of your best British queueing and politeness – don’t be a belt hog!
Next up is customs. You can find out what you can bring into the UK here. If you have goods to declare, head for the red lane; if you’re arriving from the EU, then go blue; and if you’re arriving from outside the EU but haven’t brought anything in that you shouldn’t, then go green!
If you are connecting from a domestic flight to an international flight, you will need to collect your bag and check in again.
If you are connecting from an international flight to a UK flight, you will need to go through passport control and collect your bag before checking in again.
There’s no train station at Edinburgh airport, but pretty much every other option you could want is there, and is clearly signposted.
The fairly recent addition of a tram route was too much for us to turn down, so we used that to get the city. It took us about 30 minutes to Haymarket, and it’s about 40 minutes to the end of the line at York Place. You can buy a combined ticket which includes the Edinburgh bus network for £9, or just get a single for £5.50. The tram is quite relaxing and takes a nice route through the countryside, which is fun.
A cheaper option is the 100 bus, which also goes to the city centre for £4.50 for a single. If you’re feeling flash, you could get a taxi – I believe they cost about £25-£30.
If you’re going to another city, then have a look at the coach options, but if you’re exploring Scotland, car hire will make sense.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to Scotland! Fàilte!
Getting into Edinburgh Airport
There are currently no restrictions on getting into the terminal at Edinburgh.
Checking In and Dropping Bags
The simplest option is to check-in online beforehand. You will be able to print your boarding pass, or use an app on your phone. You can then go to the self-service bag drop facilities in the terminal. There are also traditional check-in desks in the terminal.
If you’ve checked in online, arrive at least one hour before a domestic flight, or two hours before an international flight. Most check in desks only open two hours before the flight, but the long haul ones usually open three hours before.
Check with your airline to be sure of their time and baggage requirements (including hand luggage).
Liquids, creams, gels, pastes and aerosols are subject to security restrictions in UK airports. They must be:
- Carried in containers holding 100ml or less.
- Carried separately in a single bag which is:
- Transparent and resealable
- No larger than 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in)
- Able to close properly with all the items inside.
Remove your liquid bag from your hand luggage, and place it in a tray with the rest of your items.
The following exceptions may be made to the 100ml rule (but thorough screening will still be required):
- Baby food or baby milk (carry only what is needed for the flight)
- Liquid medicines (provide medical proud that you need them on your journey, or put them in your hold luggage)
- Duty Free liquids (must be in a sealed duty free bag and have proof of purchase from within the last 24 hours clearly displayed inside)
You should also remove large electricals (laptops, kindles, etc.) from your bag and place them in a separate tray. Oh, and empty your pockets and remove your coat, belt and watch.
General rule: listen to what people tell you to do, and don’t hold everyone else up because you weren’t paying attention or didn’t get yourself organised beforehand.
All gates are within the departure lounge, so you don’t need to worry about leaving time to reach them. I feel that there could be more seating by the gates, but it’s not terrible.
There’s a large duty free shop which you have to walk through to reach the departure lounge, and a few more shops and restaurants after security. Last time I travelled on a late flight, but a lot of the shops and bars were still open.
I hope this guide has provided some help for the process of navigating Edinburgh Airport. Enjoy your trip!