Best UK airport: How City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Luton rank according to Which?
Which? surveyed just under 4,000 of its members to draw up a list of the best airports in the UK. But how did London’s airports do?
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A London airport has been named the second-best in the country, though it was not happy reading for all of the capital’s entries.
Consumer publication Which? surveyed nearly 4,000 of its members asking about their experiences at the UK’s airports, with the results based on metrics ranging from queues at the check-in desk to seating and prices in shops.
Top of the pile was Liverpool John Lennon, which received an overall customer score of 82%, and five-stars for its check-in desk queues and security. Bottom was Manchester’s Terminal 3, with just a 38% rating.
“What do the best airports in the UK have in common? They’re all pretty small,” wrote Which?. “The six airports with a customer score of 70% or more in the table below all served fewer than five million passengers (compared to Heathrow’s 62 million).
“They might not have the same range of flight destinations as the biggest airports in our survey - but you’re likely to have a much better experience if you’re lucky enough to be able to use one of them.”
But how did London’s airports fare?
London City Airport (customer score: 78%)
London City Airport came second overall based on its customer score, doing particularly well on metrics including queues at the check-in desk and queues at security. Its lowest rating was two-stars for its toilets, while it got three stars for seating, prices in shops and range of shops.
The Which? verdict: “One of the best airports in the country for a smooth passenger experience, enhanced by its introduction of new CT scanners. Passengers told us they were through security in 10 minutes on average.”
Robert Sinclair, chief executive officer of London City Airport, said: “We are thrilled to be named London’s best airport, which is testament to the whole team at London City Airport who work so hard to offer passengers easy and speedy journeys to and from the capital’s most centrally located airport.
“I’m also delighted to see such positive feedback on our new security scanners, which have improved the passenger experience, and we look forward to building on this further through the upcoming completion of our upgraded departure lounge.”
Gatwick Airport (customer score: 57% North / 54% South)
Across its North and South terminals, Gatwick performed fairly consistently on most measures. However, two-star ratings were recorded for metrics including queues at bag drop and seating.
The Which? verdict: “Nobody really loves Gatwick but, most of the time at least, it does the job.”
Gatwick Airport was approached for comment.
Heathrow Airport (customer score: 57% Terminal 4 / 57% Terminal 5 / 54% Terminal 2 / 54% Terminal 3)
With the most entries in the list, Heathrow recorded a mixed bag. T5, for example, received four stars for queues at check-in, while T3 got one-star for its prices in shops.
The Which? verdict: “It’s a mixed bag. Those travelling from T4 and T5 can expect a fairly smooth journey through the airport, but the other two terminals ranked below Gatwick overall.”
Heathrow Airport was approached for comment.
Stansted Airport (customer score: 51%)
While performing well in measures including its baggage reclaim, Stansted recorded one-star reviews for its seating and prices in shops, plus several two-star ratings.
The Which? verdict: “Overpriced and crowded.”
A spokesperson for Stansted Airport told LondonWorld this summer so far, more than 97% of passengers have passed through security in 15 minutes or less, and that it also has one of the best rack records for on-time flight performance and fewest flight cancellations in the country.
They said the survey is only based on a small sample of the 25 million passengers passing through the airport every year, and that in July and August this year, 93% of passengers they surveyed rated their overall satisfaction as good, very good or excellent.
London Luton Airport (customer score: 49%)
The worst-performing London airport, Luton received one-star ratings for its queues at the check-in desk and at bag drop. Its highest score was three stars, for its range of shops.
The Which? verdict: “It plans to expand from 18 to 32 million passengers. Let’s hope those plans include more seats and toilets.”
A spokesperson for London Luton Airport said: “Which? surveyed just 183 people out of the 15 million who had used London Luton Airport in a 12-month period. Whilst all feedback is important to us, we do not believe the findings accurately represent the views of the majority of our passengers.
“Our teams work hard to provide a simple and friendly passenger experience, and this is reflected in the ASQ global airport benchmarking scheme, which shows that four out of five of our passengers rate their experience as ‘very good or excellent’.
“In addition, official passenger tracking data shows the average security wait time at LLA during the survey period was just nine minutes.”