Long queues, expensive parking and overcrowded terminals have been cited as reasons behind the crowning of Belfast airport as the worst in the UK.
A survey by consumer group Which? asked fliers to rank the airports, requiring them to list up to four experiences of flying from or to the UK.
Of the 4,499 passengers surveyed, 68 of them listed Belfast International airport as among those at which they had had bad experiences. This left the airport with an approval rating of 42 per cent, with customers saying it was “shabby” and “understaffed”, as well as being poorly laid out.
London Luton and Manchester T3 were both harshly criticised, scoring 43 per cent and 47 per cent respectively.
The best airport
In contrast, the top scoring airport was Doncaster Sheffield, with Heathrow T5 and Birmingham rounding off the top three.
Airports were only included in the final results of they had more than 30 inclusions in the responses of the customers surveyed.
The survey was carried out in April and May of this year (2019), and from the 4,499 customers who took part, 6,237 airport experiences were graded in terms of satisfaction.
Belfast airport admitted that it had been having problems in recent months, however, it said that customer experience had improved dramatically since the survey was taken.
£1 million invested at Belfast International
Earlier this year more than £1m was invested in the security systems at Belfast International in response to complaints about long delays.
Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, Belfast International Airport managing director Graham Keddie said, “Our new security company has taken us on in leaps and bounds with our staff.
“It [the survey] was done in April and May before the changes were really in place, in fact we started with the changes at Easter.
“We have now got a tracking system in place and we’re seeing more than 90 per cent of our passengers going through in less than 15 minutes.
“It’s perhaps legacy from the past, but again we’ve got to take it on board and continue to improve.”
Luton airport was the worst performing large airport. Any airport with 10 million or more passengers passing through each year qualifies for this category.
Luton has been ranked the worst large airport for four years in a row. Aberdeen airport also maintained a poor record, being ranked the worst in Scotland for the fifth year running. It’s approval rating was 50 per cent.
Both Luton and Aberdeen came under fire for limited seating.
Doncaster Sheffield was ranked top for the third year in a row, with customers saying it was “cosy” and “easy to navigate”.
The Yorkshire airport was given an approval rating of 86 per cent, however some customers said they wished it offered more connections than its current 55 journeys.
With its score of 60 per cent, Heathrow Terminal 5 was the best performing large airport. It was praised for its ample seating and helpful staff, although high parking charges were criticised.
Representatives of Luton and Aberdeen airport criticised the survey.
A spokesperson for London Luton Airport told the BBC that of the 4,499 people surveyed, only 273 had mentioned Luton.
They added, “We’re disappointed by our ranking but pleased to see this year’s customer score has improved 23 per cent compared to last year. This highlights passengers are now beginning to see the benefits of our £160m redevelopment.”
Steve Szalay, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, said Which?’s survey was out of date and did not match up to the positive feedback they had received.