The Best and Worst UK Airports according to passengers

Doncaster Sheffield Airport celebrates topping customer satisfaction survey (Image: DSA)
Doncaster Sheffield Airport celebrates topping customer satisfaction survey (Image: DSA)

A survey of over 11,000 passengers has seen some major changes in the 2018 UK Airport Ranking by consumer watchdog, Which?.

The 2018 survey saw Cardiff Airport drop significantly to below Bristol Airport and Manchester’s Terminal 3 and London Luton score the lowest results for passenger satisfaction.

Doncaster Sheffield Airport came out on top again with an overall score of 87% satisfaction in the survey which reflects the trend of passengers preferring to get better experiences at smaller airports. This is shown by up and coming London Southend Airport coming in second. London Southend has just had a major investment by low-cost airlines Easyjet & Ryanair.

Ian Smith, Director of Commercial and Passenger Experience at Doncaster Sheffield Airport said: “To win this award consistently, gives us great confidence in our plans for future growth and expansion.  As over half of the flights operated from DSA are now low cost, we can look forward to more customers than ever enjoying our first-class service and choice at a very reasonable price.”

Cardiff Airport scored 64% customer satisfaction which saw it drop of 5 places from last years survey. This will no doubt come as a disappointment to the government owned airport given the recent terminal upgrades designed to enhance customer experience. The drop sees it fall below regional competitor Bristol Airport which just edged ahead with 66% but its terminal design is still disliked by many due to passengers often facing long-walks to and from gates.

Cardiff Airport Departure Lounge Panorama
Cardiff Airport recently unveiled a raft of terminal upgrades including a new seating area.

The big London airports, Heathrow & Gatwick scored low in the survey with Heathrow’s terminal 5 being the best of the bunch in 13th place with a score of 63%, the worst being Heathrow’s terminal 3 scoring just 55% in joint 22nd place with Gatwick’s south terminal.

In Scotland,  Glasgow Airport beat rival Edinburgh Airport, despite the latter being the more popular airport in passenger numbers.

The UK’s 3rd largest airport, Manchester  came at the bottom of the table with terminal 2 in 25th place (51%), terminal 1 in 28th place (46%) and terminal 3 in joint 29th (44%) putting the airport just ahead of London Luton in 31st place wuth a woeful 35% passenger satisfaction.

The survey shows that passengers get a better experience when they start their holidays and trips at smaller airports with minimal queues but often these airports have a lack of choice of destinations and a lack of facilities which can detract from the experience so while a few airports have stuck the balance, many haven’t and as airports grow, it seems they find it harder to keep passengers satisfied.

But as a general rule of thumb, if you can fly from a smaller airport then you will get a better experience.

Full list of UK Airports

  • Doncaster Sheffield (87%)
  • London Southend (84%)
  • Newcastle (74%)
  • Southampton (73%)
  • Exeter (72%)
  • Bournemouth (71%)
  • Liverpool (70%) Joint 7th
  • London City (70%) Joint 7th
  • Inverness (68%) Joint 9th
  • Norwich (68%) Joint 9th
  • Bristol (66%)
  • Cardiff (64%)
  • Glasgow International (63%) Joint 13th
  • London Heathrow Terminal 5 (63%) Joint 13th
  • Belfast City (62%)
  • Birmingham (61%)
  • East Midlands (60%) Joint 17th
  • London Heathrow Terminal 2 (60%) Joint 17th
  • Edinburgh (59%)
  • London Gatwick North Terminal (57%)
  • London Heathrow Terminal 4 (56%)
  • London Gatwick South Terminal (55%) Joint 22nd
  • London Heathrow Terminal 3 (55%) Joint 22nd
  • Leeds Bradford (54%)
  • Manchester Terminal 2 (51%)
  • Belfast International (50%)
  • Aberdeen (49%)
  • Manchester Terminal 1 (46%)
  • London Stansted (44%) Joint 29th
  • Manchester Terminal 3 (44%) Joint 29th
  • London Luton (35%)
About Nick Harding 1930 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.