A number of small UK airports have beaten their larger rivals to be named the best in the country this year.
Big name rivals were beaten to the top in a new survey from consumer researcher Which?
British holidaymakers might not be surprised that larger international airports didn’t fair so well after a summer of excessive delays and flight cancellations.
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Hundreds of people were left stranded abroad or stuck in airport terminals due to the chaos over the busiest months in travel.
Which? Surveyed 7,500 members and asked them to rate their experience at UK airports over the last two years..
From the answers given they extrapolated the data to assign each travel hub a customer score.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport was the highest rated of those reported on – becoming the customer champion for the fourth year in a row.
It achieved an 85% customer score and was praised for the "fantastic staff" and "faultless service".
Doncaster Sheffield also bagged five stars when rated on its security queues, baggage reclaim, seating, toilet facilities and employees.
It did, however, receive the lowest score for shopping venues.
Unfortunately, earlier this year the Yorkshire airport announced that it would shut down within weeks.
Second place was bagged by both Exeter and Liverpool John Lennon Airports with a score of 83%
Exeter scored a near-perfect set of five star ratings, dropping to two stars only on the choice of shops available.
Multiple respondents commented on the "small, friendly" feel of the airport and a lack of queues.
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Meanwhile, Liverpool John Lennon Airport also rated highly for wait times, achieving an impressive five stars across check-in, bag-drop, security, passport control and baggage reclaim.
People praised it for being "uncrowded".
However, Manchester Airport – one of the largest in the North – was given the three lowest scores in the charts thanks to its terminals.
Manchester scooped just a 38% customer score for Terminal 3 which scored one star for queues at security, seating, prices in shops and the range of shops on offer.
It took home no more than two stars in the remaining categories and was called "chaotic" and "heaving" as well as a "shambles".
Manchester Terminals 1 and 2 scraped scores of 41% and 47% respectively.
They scored just one star for queue times at security, though Terminal 2 distinguished itself as the only Manchester terminal to score 3 stars in any category, which it achieved both for seating and toilet facilities.
Out of the London airports, City was top in joint third place alongside Southhampton.
It achieved an impressive five stars across all queue types, from check-in, bag-drop, security, passport control and baggage reclaim.
It also rated four stars for quality of seating available and helpfulness of staff.
Meanwhile Heathrow’s Terminal 5 scored best for the mammoth airport which was plagued by queues and chaos this summer.
It took home four stars across all types of queues, and an overall customer satisfaction score of 60%.
Unfortunately, terminals 2, 3 and 4 all languished in the bottom half of the table however, with Terminal 4 achieving a customer satisfaction score of just 48%.
Respondents said the terminals had "much room for improvement" and that the "queues were ridiculous".
The 10 worst airports
- Manchester T3
- Manchester T1
- Manchester T2
- London Heathrow T4
- Belfast International
- London Heathrow T3
- London Luton
- London Heathrow T2
- Leeds Bradford
- London Stansted
A Manchester Airport Spokesperson said: "We apologise to any customer who feels their experience was not of the standard we want to deliver over the past two years.
"The pandemic was the biggest crisis faced by our industry in its history. At one stage passenger numbers at Manchester Airport dropped to just 5 per cent of normal levels and airports around the world had to cut costs just to survive.
"Earlier this year, the whole of the travel industry then faced unprecedented challenges as travel restrictions were removed and demand returned rapidly to the market, and Manchester Airport was no different.
"The hugely competitive employment market and delays in training and vetting meant there were times when we were unable to keep up with passenger demand, which resulted in longer waiting times than we would like.
"As the summer progressed, and hundreds of new colleagues were welcomed into the business, service levels improved consistently and we are now in a place where we can provide a good standard of service to passengers. For example, in September, 97% of passengers passed through security in under 30 minutes, and this improvement was delivered without the need to impose flight cancellations on our airlines, which meant more than 14m people travelled through Manchester this summer.
"Airlines, baggage handling companies and others operating on our site faced similar challenges throughout the summer and we are aware this impacted some of the services they provide, such as check-in and baggage reclaim.
"Even though these are not services we deliver directly, we are closely managing the performance of our partners, making clear the standards we expect from them and providing support where necessary. We are looking forward to delivering a positive experience to all our passengers this winter, and into summer 2023."
A Heathrow spokesperson said: "This is an amateur survey with inaccurate and misleading conclusions. What is clear is that Heathrow has faced unprecedented growth this year, as passenger numbers rose faster and higher than any other European hub, with more than 18 million passengers using the airport this summer.
"We have seen thousands of people joining or returning to work across the 400 companies that operate here. After the two years of international travel lockdown, this was always going to be a tough year and colleagues across the airport have put in a monumental effort to meet those challenges. Our focus continues to be on building back capacity so that we can deliver the consistent, high-quality service our passengers expect at Heathrow.”
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