The UK’s ‘worst’ airport revealed

UK
Belfast International AirportImage copyright Sean McMullan
Image caption In March, passengers had to queue outside the airport in freezing conditions due to delays at security

Long queues, crowded terminals and pricey parking charges have led to Belfast International being rated the UK’s worst airport in a survey by consumer magazine Which?.

Customers gave the airport an approval score of 42%, saying it was “shabby”, “understaffed” and had a poor layout.

It came just behind London Luton on 43% and Manchester T3 on 47%.

By contrast “cosy” Doncaster Sheffield came top, followed by Birmingham and Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

In April and May this year, 4,499 Which? members were surveyed about 6,237 airport experiences in terms of satisfaction.

People could mention up to four experiences, and an airport would only be included if it got more than 30 responses, with the results then weighted.

Image copyright Which?
Image caption Which? members said Belfast International looked “shabby”

Belfast acknowledged passengers had faced problems during the past 18 months, but said satisfaction had improved since the Which? survey.

The airport has invested £1m in expanding its security area after long delays meant passengers had to queue outside the airport in freezing conditions in March.

It has also expanded its range of food and drink outlets amid complaints from Which? members that the choice was too limited.

Of the largest airports with more than 10 million passengers a year, Luton was the worst performer, a position it has held for four years running.

Despite terminal improvement works finishing in December, Luton travellers complained about “limited seating” and “congested” security queues.

Aberdeen International was ranked the worst Scottish Airport for the fifth year in row, with a customer score of 50%.

Customers criticised its staff and seating, with one telling Which? they only used the airport for “geographic convenience”, not out of choice.

Best performers

By contrast, Doncaster Sheffield topped the survey for the third year in a row, with customers calling it a “cosy airport” with no queues that was “easy to navigate”.

The Yorkshire hub got a customer satisfaction score of 86% – although some respondents said they wished it offered more connections than its current 55.

Heathrow Terminal 5 was the best performing large airport, with a score of 66%. Customers praised its ample seating, helpful staff and toilet facilities, although there were complaints about its high parking charges.

A spokesperson for London Luton Airport (LLA) said: “We’re disappointed by our ranking but pleased to see this year’s customer score has improved 23% compared to last year. This highlights passengers are now beginning to see the benefits of our £160m redevelopment.”

They added that of the 4,499 people surveyed by Which?, only 273 had used Luton, while the airport has more than 16 million passengers a year.

Steve Szalay, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, said Which’s survey was “months out of date and in no way tallies with the hugely positive feedback we’re receiving from the tens of thousands of passengers who are travelling through our doors on a weekly basis”.

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