The telecoms giant is using a specially designed “blast pod”, in which travellers at the airport’s Terminal One can sit and try out the network.
Vodafone says it could offer mobile internet speeds up to four times faster than current generation 4G.
The trial is one of a number of tests currently taking place in the UK – across a number of different mobile operators – ahead of public rollout, expected to begin later this year.
Vodafone is already trialling 5G in parts of Salford, Greater Manchester. It said it would also begin further trials in the coming weeks, including at Snow Hill railway station in Birmingham.
Vodafone chief executive Nick Jeffery said: “We all love to catch up on our favourite TV shows, play games or finish off some work when travelling.
“5G, with its fast speeds and quick response times, will make that quick and easy, even in busy locations.
“We are proud to be the first provider to bring 5G to an airport and will be adding more major travel hot spots to our 5G network throughout the year.”
5G is expected to enable the greater widespread use of internet of things (IoT) technology and help spark the creation of more connected cities, as well as support the wider use of autonomous cars and robotics.
Manchester Airport chief operating officer Brad Miller said: “We are delighted to support Vodafone’s 5G trial at Manchester Airport.
“As we progress with the design and delivery of our £1 billion transformation programme, we are constantly exploring how new innovations and technology can be applied to improve the airport experience. As a business with a strong presence in our surrounding community, Vodafone was a natural partner for a trial project like this and we look forward to collaborating with them again in the future.”