Blackpool towers above Heathrow for passenger satisfaction

Survey shows that small is beautiful when it comes to air travel

Blackpool's fading Victorian glamour and down-at-heel B&Bs may place it in the second division of seaside resorts, but its airport is the best in Britain.

In a survey of 30 UK airports, the small airfield one mile south of the Lancashire town was applauded for the speed of its check-in and security, ease of reaching boarding gates, quality of food outlets and overall ambience. Travellers, mostly flying to Mediterranean islands, gave Blackpool a satisfaction score of 80 in the survey by Which? Holiday.

In a sign that travellers prefer compact, uncongested airports, two other small airports, London City and Robin Hood in Doncaster, claimed second and third with scores of 78 and 76.

Britain's biggest airports, owned by the country's biggest airport operator BAA – Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – all performed dismally. Heathrow's Terminal 1 was ranked the worst of 38 terminals, joined at the bottom by Heathrow Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and Gatwick's north and south terminals. Stansted trailed in seventh-bottom position, just below Manchester and Luton, the UK's fourth and fifth biggest airports.

Of BAA's major airports, only the newly opened Heathrow Terminal 5 – which experienced mass bag losses and delays last year – escaped damning criticism, coming 15th from bottom with a score of 54. Customers rated BAA's London airports poorly for getting through security and reaching boarding gates, food and overall experience.

Which? Holiday conceded that Heathrow and Gatwick would inevitably suffer in terms of the distance between security and boarding gates. Nonetheless, Which? warned BAA not to use Heathrow's size as an excuse, and pointed out that in a global passenger survey last year, Heathrow, with 67 million passengers a year, came 120th (out of 160), while Atlanta – the world's busiest airport with 90 million users last year – came 28th.

A total of 9,221 Which? members rated 38 airport terminals for eight criteria; parking, check-in, experience, time and distance through security, food outlets, shops, airside amenities (such as number of seats in boarding gates), and speed of baggage reclaim on return journeys.

Blackpool, a base for Spitfires during the Second World War, scored maximum marks for check-in, time and distance, and the overall experience of using the airport. The airport will find life tougher this year following the withdrawal in January of the low-cost carrier Ryanair, which flew 100,000 passengers a year to Dublin and Barcelona.

Balfour Beatty, the construction giant which also owns Exeter airport, has signed a deal with Loganair and Flybe to start flying from Blackpool to the Isle of Man from May.

BAA said that customers were starting to be treated better, adding that it would spend £6bn on improving its facilities by 2014. Blackpool handled 439,200 passengers in 2008, compared with BAA, whose seven airports handled 145 million passengers.

Lorna Cowan, editor of Which? Holiday, said: "It seems clear that Which? members prefer the experience of flying from smaller regional airports to using the larger ones. So it is well worth looking into the routes offered from smaller airports when planning a holiday to short-haul destinations."

UK airports handled a total of 235 million passengers last year – 1.9 per cent fewer than in 2007, the first fall in traffic for 17 years.

Britain's best - and worst - airports

THE 10 BEST

* Blackpool airport
Annual passengers: 439,200
Best feature: Check-in, food outlets, airside amenities, return waiting times, experience
Worst feature: Shops
Score: 80 per cent

*London City
*Doncaster Sheffield
*Exeter
*Southampton
*Humberside
*Norwich
*Bournemouth
*Inverness
*Durham Tees Valley

THE 10 WORST

* Heathrow Terminal 1
Annual passengers: 14.3 million
Best features: None
Worst features: Time and distance, shops, return waiting time, experience
Score: 31 per cent

*Heathrow T4
*Heathrow T2
*Heathrow T3
*Gatwick South
*Gatwick North
*Stansted
*Manchester T1
*London Luton
*Glasgow Prestwick



Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Junior Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

    £23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker