The queues to get through security at London Stansted airport are legendary ... but they really exceeded expectation just after 6am this morning.
Thousands - and I mean thousands - of people snaked down through all available aisles - about six queues in all.
The worst was at the right hand side - the one that met me as I walked in from the next door Radisson SAS hotel (I'll post pictures of the wine fairies in its restaurant's wine tower later) in the middle of the hire car park. The other queues were shorter, but little effort was going into balancing them out. Half asleep travellers tend to join the first queue they stumble across.
On the plus side, helpful staff were handing out clear plastic bags for toiletries and giving advice on how to get two bags through security ("tie your handbag to your suit bag and it'll count as one at the scanner madam").
For once the easyJet check-in queue was practically empty. Though easyJet (Swissport staff on their behalf) were up to their usual tricks - half an hour before departure time, they announced the gate was closing over the tannoy in the main airside shopping area.
Fifteen minutes later and they still hadn't started pre-board. Only ever seems to happen for the Belfast flight.
Air Berlin at the next gate along - heading to Belfast City rather than Belfast International - didn't seem to need this panic-inducing measure to successfully board and leave 5 minutes before easyJet.
Maybe the fabled ruthless German efficiency isn't just a stereotype!