London Luton has been named the worst airport in the UK for the second year running, according to the Which? annual survey of "holiday hassles".
Despite a record two million passengers using the Bedfordshire hub over the last two months – largely thanks to the popularity of EasyJet, Monarch and Ryanair who are all based there – many travellers still complained about security control, baggage reclaim and Luton’s pick-up and drop-off point, which has a maximum stay of 10 minutes and costs £2 on exit.
Of the 8,000 Which? members that rated airports in different categories, Luton finished bottom with a 37 per cent satisfaction rating – a six per cent drop on last year. One member described the airport as a “hell hole”.
However, final planning consent for a £100m development of the airport has recently been granted that will increase annual passenger capacity from 12 to 18 million per year by 2031. Many of its frequent users will be hoping the inevitable problems they continue to encounter will be dealt with long before then.
Hampstead cricket club member John Mennis vented his frustration today upon arrival at London Luton. He said: “Another hideous queue at Luton Airport - there must be something that someone can do about it. Such a drag. [Staff] forced a lady in front of me to buy a plastic bag for a tiny bottle of prescribed eye drops - extortion!”
Luton does have a speedy security check but travellers must pay £3 to use it. No one at the airport was available for comment.
Large airports – deemed to handle more than four million passengers a year – fared much worse off than their smaller counterparts in the survey. The highest rated larger airport, Newcastle, only managed a customer score of 66 per cent while Stansted scored 43 per cent.
Three of Heathrow’s five terminals had a satisfaction rate of less than 50 per cent, and Gatwick’s Northern Terminal 49 per cent. Both airports also recorded record passenger numbers for July – just under seven million and more than four million respectively as debate continues over a third runway at Heathrow.
Of the smaller airports – handling fewer than four million passengers a year – London Southend in Essex and Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield topped the satisfaction table, each with a score of 85 per cent. It is the second year running Southend has taken the number one spot. They were followed by Blackpool airport and London City (both 80 per cent) and Inverness and Southampton (both 78 per cent).
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “The message from travellers is clear - larger airports continue to let people down on the basics, from baggage reclaim to food outlets. In a separate snapshot investigation, we found holidaymakers could save almost £600 by switching their chosen airport on a seven-night break. A summer holiday to Portugal departing from Luton with Thomson could be £584 cheaper if you flew from Gatwick instead.”
A spokesperson for London Luton said it was “surprised and disappointed” by the findings. She said: “Since the poll was undertaken, we have been given the green light for a £100m redevelopment project which will transform the airport. This marks the start of an exciting new journey for London Luton Airport. We are committed to working with our carriers, baggage handling agents, the Border Force and transport partners to deliver a simple, hassle-free airport experience for our customers.”
Best and worst airport customer satisfaction ratings
London Southend (85%)
Robin Hood Doncaster/Sheffield (85 %)
London City (80%)
London Gatwick North Terminal (49%)
London Heathrow Terminal 4 (48%)
London Heathrow Terminal 3 (46%)
London Heathrow Terminal 1 (43%)
London Stansted (43%)
London Luton (37%)
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