Troops should be sent into major airports to help with security checks and ease delays in the wake of last Thursday's bomb plot security alert, shadow Home Secretary David Davis said.
A third of flights due to leave Heathrow yesterday were cancelled despite a plea by the airlines for measures to alleviate the problems caused by new anti-terror measures.
Airlines are at loggerheads with operator British Airports Authority (BAA) over who is to blame for the continuing delays and cancellations.
Home Secretary John Reid said that the ultra-tight security measures would be "time limited" and the Government was working closely with all parties.
But Mr Davis suggested Britain should follow the example of the US and draft in the security forces to help out.
"In America, for example, troops are being used - probably National Guardsmen I imagine - to help with the searches and help with the security oversight, which accelerates it somewhat.
"It may well be that the smart thing for the Government to do now is to see whether or not they can divert some resources to helping out BAA.
"BAA are clearly not set up for this level of scrutiny and it does seem to me there is an argument for some resources being put in there, and put in there quickly, to try and rescue as many holidays as we possibly can."
BA chief executive Willie Walsh accused the BAA, which runs Heathrow, of being unable to deal with increased security and budget airline Ryanair called for urgent Government action to stop airports grinding to a halt.
"The airport's baggage system cannot process all of the passengers' bags and where passengers have been able to check their bags in, the lengthy queues in the airport security search area means that passengers are unable to get to the departure gate in time for their flight," said Mr Walsh.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted could not cope.
"Ryanair and other major UK airlines cannot keep cancelling flights and disrupting the travel plans of tens of thousands of British passengers and visitors solely because the BAA cannot cope with the new body search requirements," he said.
"The goal of these terrorists and extremists is not just to kill but also to disrupt the economic life of Britain.
"The UK Government, by insisting on these heavy-handed security measures, is allowing the extremists to achieve many of their objectives. It is vital that the Government works with the UK airports and airlines to prevent the collapse of the London airports.
"Britain must not be beaten by extremists. We must not be terrorised and we cannot allow our economic life to be disrupted."
Paul Charles, director of communications at Virgin Atlantic, said it was "supportive of BAA because they are having to do a very difficult job in extreme circumstances".
Likewise, low-cost airline easyJet praised BAA, saying its services were back to normal.