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



The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment