The UK’s 24 best and worst airports for 2023 named by Which? – Liverpool John Lennon is No.1, London City is second and ‘overcrowded’ Manchester T3 ranks bottom… AGAIN
- Which? asked nearly 4,000 travellers to rate their experiences at 24 UK airports over the past 12 months
- First-place Liverpool John Lennon Airport has been praised for its ‘friendly’ staff and ‘hassle-free’ atmosphere
- READ MORE: What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled due to the air traffic control IT failure…
Liverpool John Lennon Airport has been rated the UK’s best airport – with travellers praising their experience at the airport as ‘first class’.
London City Airport sits in second place, while Southampton Airport ranks third. Manchester Airport’s Terminal 3, meanwhile, flounders at the bottom of the heap – the same position it held last year.
The rankings have been produced by a new survey by Which? that asked nearly 4,000 travellers to rate their experiences at 24 UK airports and terminals over the past year. Respondents ranked airports based on eleven categories, including seating, staff, toilets, queues at check in, bag drop, passport control and security.
A customer score was then calculated based on a combination of travellers’ overall satisfaction and their likeliness to recommend the airport. On top of that, the consumer champion asked travellers to report how long they spent queueing at security.
First-place Liverpool John Lennon Airport snapped up a score of 82 per cent. Customers gave the airport five stars for check-in and security queues, ‘indicating an uncommonly hassle-free experience’, Which? reveals.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport has been rated the UK’s best airport. The ranking has been produced by a new survey by Which? that asked nearly 4,000 travellers to rate their experiences at 24 UK airports and terminals over the past year
It scored four stars for staff, with multiple respondents praising the airport’s employees as both ‘friendly’ and ‘helpful’. The airport also achieved four stars for baggage reclaim and queues at bag drop and passport control.
One traveller said it was a ‘well run, efficient airport’ while another lauded it as their ‘preferred’ airport, Which? says, adding that the airport has earned the coveted Which? Recommended Provider status for the second consecutive year.
Second-place London City, meanwhile, is close behind with a score of 78 per cent. ‘Well served by transport links, the airport is a popular option for business travellers in and out of the capital,’ Which? says.
Respondents praised the airport’s ‘relaxed’ atmosphere, Which? notes.
It scored an impressive five stars for queues at check-in and security, where new scanners have recently been installed, meaning passengers no longer need to observe the 100ml (3.5oz) limit on liquids or remove electronics from their bags.
In fact, Which? reveals that the airport had some of the lowest security waiting times of any in the survey, with an average estimated queue of just 10 minutes, beaten only by Aberdeen (joint 10th, 55 per cent) and third-place Southampton (77 per cent), which both had average waits of nine minutes.
Survey respondents ranked airports based on eleven categories, including toilets and queues at check in
London City Airport ranks second. ‘Well served by transport links, the airport is a popular option for business travellers in and out of the capital,’ Which? says
One passenger said London City’s new security system is ‘quick and so much less hassle’, while another lauded the scanners as a ‘game-changer’.
However, the watchdog notes that London City missed out on a Which? Recommended Provider badge owing to a low rating of just two stars for toilet facilities.
After third-place Southampton, the rest of the top five is made up of Bournemouth (75 per cent), which ranks in fourth place, and East Midlands and Newcastle, which tie for fifth with scores of 72 per cent.
Looking to the bottom of the table, Manchester Airport has the unwelcome distinction of taking the lowest two spots in the rankings, with a ‘dismal’ customer score of just 38 per cent for last-place Terminal 3 (17th) and 44 per cent for Terminal 1 (16th), Which? reveals.
Manchester’s Terminal 2 (14th) fares marginally better, but still finds itself in the bottom five with a score of 50 per cent.
Terminal 3 scored a ‘lamentable’ one star for seating, prices in shops, and queues at check-in, bag drop and security, Which? reveals. It scored no higher than two stars in any of the remaining categories.
Southampton Airport is third in the ranking with a score of 77 per cent. It has bagged five stars for its queue times at check in and security
Birmingham Airport was the worst-performing airport when it came to security queue times, with an average reported wait time of 29 minutes
One traveller complained of ‘huge queues’ at check-in, branding the situation a ‘joke’, while others dubbed the airport experience as ‘crowded, noisy, generally stressful’ and ‘dispiriting from start to finish’.
Multiple respondents reported long queues at various points through the airport experience, and noted the airport was ‘overcrowded’.
Terminal 1 also received a clutch of one and two-star ratings but secured three stars for the range of shops on offer. Terminal 2, meanwhile, scored no lower than two stars in any category and managed a good score of four stars for queues at the check-in desk, Which? reveals.
The watchdog says that the airport was among the worst performing in the survey for security queues, with an average wait time of 28 minutes reported at Terminal 3, 26 minutes at Terminal 2 and 25 minutes at Terminal 1.
Manchester Terminal 3 flounders at the bottom of the table. Some travellers dubbed the airport experience as ‘dispiriting from start to finish’
AT A GLANCE: WHICH? REVEALS THE UK’S BEST AND WORST AIRPORTS
1. Liverpool John Lennon – 82 per cent
2. London City – 78 per cent
3. Southampton – 77 per cent
4. Bournemouth – 75 per cent
5 = East Midlands – 72 per cent
5 = Newcastle – 72 per cent
6. Glasgow International – 62 per cent
7. Leeds Bradford – 58 per cent
8 = London Gatwick North – 57 per cent
8 = London Heathrow T4 – 57 per cent
8 = London Heathrow T5 – 57 per cent
9. Bristol – 56 per cent
10 = Aberdeen – 55 per cent
10 = Edinburgh – 55 per cent
11 = London Gatwick South – 54 per cent
11 = London Heathrow T2 – 54 per cent
11 = London Heathrow T3 – 54 per cent
12. Birmingham – 53 per cent
13. London Stansted – 51 per cent
14. Manchester T2 – 50 per cent
15 = Belfast International – 49 per cent
15 = London Luton – 49 per cent
16. Manchester T1 – 44 per cent
17. Manchester T3 – 38 per cent
Only Birmingham Airport (12th, 53 per cent) performed worse, with an average reported wait time of 29 minutes.
Also in the bottom five are London Luton and Belfast International – both have tied for 15th with a score of 49 per cent.
The worst-rated London airport in the survey, Luton received a dismal rating of just one star for queues at check-in and bag drop and received just two stars in the majority of remaining categories, with more than one customer asserting they’d ‘never fly from Luton again’.
Which? notes its highest score of three stars was for the range of shops on offer, though one customer complained they had ‘no time to go near the shops because of all the queues’.
It was among the five worst airports for security queues, with an average reported waiting time of 22 minutes, Which? reveals.
Belfast International, meanwhile, scored just two stars for seating, staff, range of shops and toilets, and scored three stars for queues through security, which respondents reported lasting 21 minutes on average. One passenger commented that at ‘every level service or quality is poor’.
However, others seemed more satisfied, noting ‘everything seemed to go smoothly’ and another said, ‘its facilities and services are easy to use’, Which? says.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Choosing the right airport isn’t often high on travellers’ holiday checklists, but taking the time to think about where you’re flying from can really pay dividends.
‘We’d recommend opting for a smaller airport, as our survey shows they generally tend to perform better on queue times and customer service, giving holidaymakers the positive start to their holidays they should expect.’
A spokesperson for Manchester Airport said: ‘We are committed to providing a great experience to all passengers. Our customer service is driven by investment in our people – we have recruited more than 3,000 colleagues since April 2022 and established a new 100-strong resilience team, trained in a variety of roles so they can respond at short notice to ensure passengers get a good level of service. It is also driven by investment in our facilities, especially the £1.3billion transformation of Terminal 2, through which more than 80 per cent of our passengers will fly by 2025.’
The statement commented that the survey, which was conducted in June 2023, is ‘based on a tiny and unrepresentative sample of the 25million passengers who travel through Manchester airport every year’.
It continued: ‘We surveyed 840 passengers in July and August this year, and 94 per cent rated their overall satisfaction with the service they received as either good, very good or excellent. Since April this year, we have welcomed more than 10.4million people through Manchester Airport and 95.6 per cent of them have got through security in under 15 minutes. Almost three-quarters got through security in under five minutes and 99.8 per cent in under 30 minutes.’
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