Britain’s biggest airports snubbed as smaller sites soar ahead

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Airport giants are losing favour among flyers with one described as an “end-to-end shambles” with smaller sites soaring to the top end of customer satisfaction ratings. Members of the consumer organisation Which? were asked to rate their experiences over the past two years and almost 7,500 travelers took part.

Taking the top spot in the poll is Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with respondents praising the ‘fantastic, helpful staff’ and ‘faultless service’ and giving it an overall score of 85 percent.

Despite winning the accolade for the fourth year in a row, it is set to close next month with Peel Group, which owns the airport, set to begin “winding down” the site from Monday.

Exeter and Liverpool John Lennon Airports tied in second place in the survey, with a customer score of 83 per cent.

At the bottom end of the table, air travel giant Manchester Airport scooped the dubious accolade of taking the three lowest spots in the rankings.

Manchester’s Terminal 3 was judged the worst in the country with a customer satisfaction score of just 38 per cent.

Travelers described it as ‘chaotic’, ‘heaving’, and ‘an end-to-end shambles’, with many expressing their disappointment at long queue times, not just through security, but even for refreshments.

Manchester Terminals 1 and 2 fared marginally better, with customer satisfaction scores of 41 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.

Among London airports, City came out head and shoulders above the rest, achieving joint third place in the tables overall (tied with Southampton), while also having the distinction of being the only London airport to make it into the national top 5.

At the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, Terminal 5 performed best and achieved an overall customer satisfaction score of 60 per cent.

But Terminals 2, 3 and 4 all languished in the bottom half of the table, with Terminal 4 achieving a customer satisfaction score of just 48 per cent.

It rated only one star for the variety of shops and two stars across all types of queues, as well as for the overall experience delivered by staff. 

One respondent shared that there was ‘much room for improvement’, while another remarked the ‘queues were ridiculous’.

Which? Travel editor Guy Hobbs said: “Just a few years ago, travellers may have paid little attention to their choice of airport – but now it may just make or break your trip. Wherever possible, we’d recommend opting for smaller airports, which have generally offered a smoother and less stressful experience for their passengers over the last two years.”

In response to the poll, 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.

“There were times when we were unable to keep up with passenger demand, which resulted in longer waiting times than we would like.

“We are now in a place where we can provide a good standard of service to passengers.”

And a Heathrow spokesperson criticised the survey as being ‘amateur’ with ‘inaccurate and misleading conclusions’.

They added: “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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