Luton named the worst airport for the third year

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 (35%).

The survey was based on 11,265 passenger visits to UK airports, taking into account everything from queues at bag drop to the cleanliness of toilets.

Long queues at airport security on departure and queues for passport control on return were rated particularly poorly by passengers at some large airports.

London Stansted and Manchester T3 are among the largest airports in the UK, yet both gained just one star for the length of queues at airport security. They also finished joint second from bottom overall in the survey with a disappointing customer score (44%). One passenger complained Manchester airport “is too small for the numbers it’s trying to handle.”

Leading the way as the best airport in the UK, for the second year, is Doncaster Sheffield airport with an outstanding customer score (87%). Passengers praised the airport’s short queues, facilities and speedy baggage reclaim process.

With ambitions to expand, Doncaster Sheffield could soon become the go-to airport for holidaymakers in the North if it can maintain its high standard.

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.

Despite Birmingham’s recent expansion and roster of new routes, 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 newish T5 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.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor said:

“Travellers want to start their trips in the smoothest way, but long queues through airports and a lack of facilities can cast a rain cloud over any getaway.

“With new routes launching all the time, passengers have an increasing choice over not just who they fly with but where they fly from. If you can pick a smaller airport, choose Southend over Luton, and Doncaster Sheffield or Liverpool instead of Manchester to get your holiday off to a better start.”


Notes to editors

The survey was carried out between April and May 2018, recording 11,265 Which? member’s experiences of UK airports they have used in the past year.

Customer score is based on a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely respondents were to recommend the airport to a friend.

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