London Luton is yet again rated the worst airport in the UK, as the Which? annual airport survey reveals passengers have a better experience when flying from smaller airports.
The disastrous customer service, queues at passport control and poor facilities placed Luton airport as the worst overall airport in the Which? survey with a dismal customer satisfaction score of 35%. Passengers may have to wait for any significant improvement. Although the airport finished the first stage of a major refurbishment in July 2017, it’s not scheduled to be completed until 2026.
The survey was based on 11,265 passenger visits to UK airports, taking into account everything from the queues at bag drop to the cleanliness of toilets.
Long queues at security and passport control
London Stansted and Manchester Terminal 3 both received just one star for passport control and security queues – even worse than Luton. They also finished joint second from bottom overall in the survey with a customer score of 44%. One passenger complained that Manchester airport, “is too small for the numbers it’s trying to handle.”
Until 2017 Manchester Airport had a target that 95% of passengers should get through security in less than eight minutes. However, they have since made it less demanding by reducing it to 92% of passengers within 15 minutes.
The UK’s best airport
Leading the way in the UK, for the second year, is Doncaster Sheffield airport with an outstanding customer score of 87%. Passengers praised the airport’s short queues, excellent facilities and speedy baggage reclaim process.
London Southend followed closely behind with another impressive customer satisfaction score (84%). The airport’s efficient queues through bag drop, security and passport control earned high praises from passengers. With direct trains to Liverpool Street that take under an hour, Southend is the highest-rated London area airport, soaring past rivals Heathrow and Gatwick.
Regional airports take-off
With new routes launching from airports around the UK, passengers no longer necessarily have to head to London for long-haul flights. Birmingham has expanded significantly in recent years but despite this it still gained the best overall score of the larger airports (61%) beating Manchester’s T2 (51%) to be crowned the best second city airport.
With a customer score of 63%, Heathrow’s Terminal 5 had an even better score than Birmingham. But passenger experiences at the UK’s largest airport very much depended on which terminal they used. Heathrow T3 was the worst rated, with an overall customer score of 55 per cent. Passengers were not impressed by the queues at passport control or the limited range of shops and restaurants.