Liverpool John Lennon airport has been crowned the UK’s best airport in Which?’s annual survey, while Manchester sank to the bottom of the list.
The consumer champion surveyed almost 4,000 travellers about their airport experience based on overall satisfaction and likeliness to recommend, with ratings given across 11 categories. These included seating, staff, toilets and queues at check in, bag drop, passport control and security.
Liverpool John Lennon airport scored 82% and was praised as "first class". It was rated five stars by customers for its hassle-free experience at check-in and security queues.
The airport also earned Which? Recommended Provider status for the second consecutive year alongside East Midlands and Newcastle, both tying in at 72%.
It achieved four stars for its “friendly” and “helpful” staff as well as baggage reclaim, queues at bag drop and passport control.
One traveller commended the service as “well run and efficient” while another lauded it as their “preferred” airport.
Following closely at 78% and rated second best was London City airport, which scored five stars for its low check-in and some of the lowest security waiting times. This was estimated at 10 minutes, with one passenger describing it as “relaxed”.
The airport, known to be a popular option amongst business flyers, also impressed customers with its transports links and newly installed scanners which allow passengers to skip the hassle of observing the 100ml limit on liquids or removing electronic devices from their bags.
However, it missed out on Which? Recommended Provider badge for its low two-star rated toilet facilities.
Also in the top five was Southampton (77%), which managed to beat Liverpool for its nine minutes average waiting time at the security gate. It was followed by Bournemouth and East Midlands airports.
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.”
Meanwhile Manchester airport ranked one of the lowest, coming in at 38% for Terminal 3, and 44% for Terminal 1.
It was criticised for being one of the worst performers for its security queues, where the average waiting time was reported to be 28 minutes at Terminal 3. It was rated one star for seating, higher prices in shops and check-in queues as well as bag drop and security.
One traveller complained of “huge queues” at check-in, branding the situation a “joke”, while others dubbed the airport experience “crowded, noisy, generally stressful” and “dispiriting from start to finish”.
Multiple customers reported long queues at various points throughout the airport experience, and noted the airport was “overcrowded”.
Manchester’s Terminal 2 fared marginally better, but still found itself in the bottom five with a score of 50% and received four stars for queues at the check-in desk.
Luton was considered to be London’s worst-rated airport with an average reported waiting time of 22 minutes and coming in at just one star for queues at check-in and bag drop. It received only two stars in the majority of remaining categories, with more than one customer asserting they would “never fly from Luton again.”
Gatwick Airport said on average, 90% of passengers have been getting through security in under 10 minutes – and many much quicker than that.
Birmingham Airport made it to the bottom for worst performance with an average reported wait time of 29 minutes. Also in the bottom five are London Luton and Belfast International, both tied on a score of 49%.
Belfast International scored only three stars for the long waiting times at 21 minutes. 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.”
Watch: UK's best and worst airports named in Which? survey