A Which? survey has condemned airports including Manchester and Heathrow, while praising London City and Doncaster Sheffield for the wait times and excellent customer service
Manchester Airport has been rated the UK's worst airport in new rankings following a summer of cancellations and lengthy delays.
Mile long queues stretching out of the terminal building and regular delays and cancellations from the North West travel hub saw it come last in a Which? survey of passengers.
Its three terminals took the lowest spots in the rankings.
At the very bottom of the charts with a customer satisfaction score of just 38 per cent was Manchester’s Terminal 3, which scored a lowly one star for queues at security, seating, prices in shops and the range of shops on offer.
Travellers dissatisfied with their experience at the terminal described it as ‘chaotic’, ‘heaving’, and ‘an end-to-end shambles’, with many expressing rage at long queue times, not just through security, but even for refreshments.
At the other end of the scale, Doncaster Sheffield Airport topped the consumer champion’s survey for the fourth consecutive time.
The airport is however due to shut down imminently, with the last flight departing in the next few weeks, costing hundreds of jobs.
With a customer score of 85 per cent, travellers praised the ‘fantastic, helpful staff’ and ‘faultless service’ at Doncaster Sheffield, awarding the airport's employees a full five stars.
Exeter and Liverpool John Lennon Airports tied in second place in the survey of almost 7,500 Which? member, with a customer score of 83 per cent.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport also rated highly for wait times, achieving an impressive five stars across check-in, bag-drop, security, passport control and baggage reclaim.
Among London airports, City came out head and shoulders above the rest, achieving joint third place in the tables overall - tied with Southampton - while also having the distinction of being the only London airport to make it into the national top five.
Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel said: “This year we’ve witnessed unprecedented chaos at many of the UK's largest airports. Travellers reported extensive queues and unhelpful staff, with resources pushed to breaking point.
“Just a few years ago, travellers may have paid little attention to their choice of airport – but now it may just make or break your trip.
"Wherever possible, we’d recommend opting for smaller airports, which have generally offered a smoother and less stressful experience for their passengers over the last two years.”The 10 best airports Doncaster Sheffield Exeter Liverpool John Lennon London City Southampton Bournemouth Newcastle Cardiff Inverness Belfast City The 10 worst airports Manchester T3 Manchester T1 Manchester T2 London Heathrow T4 Belfast International London Heathrow T3 London Luton London Heathrow T2 Leeds Bradford London Stansted
A Manchester Airport Spokesperson said: "We apologise to any customer who feels their experience was not of the standard we want to deliver over the past two years.
"The pandemic was the biggest crisis faced by our industry in its history. At one stage passenger numbers at Manchester Airport dropped to just 5 per cent of normal levels and airports around the world had to cut costs just to survive.
"Earlier this year, the whole of the travel industry then faced unprecedented challenges as travel restrictions were removed and demand returned rapidly to the market, and Manchester Airport was no different.
"The hugely competitive employment market and delays in training and vetting meant there were times when we were unable to keep up with passenger demand, which resulted in longer waiting times than we would like.
"As the summer progressed, and hundreds of new colleagues were welcomed into the business, service levels improved consistently and we are now in a place where we can provide a good standard of service to passengers. For example, in September, 97% of passengers passed through security in under 30 minutes, and this improvement was delivered without the need to impose flight cancellations on our airlines, which meant more than 14m people travelled through Manchester this summer.
"Airlines, baggage handling companies and others operating on our site faced similar challenges throughout the summer and we are aware this impacted some of the services they provide, such as check-in and baggage reclaim.
"Even though these are not services we deliver directly, we are closely managing the performance of our partners, making clear the standards we expect from them and providing support where necessary. We are looking forward to delivering a positive experience to all our passengers this winter, and into summer 2023."
At the UK’s busiest airport, Heathrow, it was the ‘spacious’ and ‘modern’ Terminal 5 that performed best, achieving a commendable four stars across all types of queues, and an overall customer satisfaction score of 60 per cent.
Its counterparts, terminals 2, 3 and 4 all languished in the bottom half of the table however, with Terminal 4 achieving a customer satisfaction score of just 48 per cent.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: "This is an amateur survey with inaccurate and misleading conclusions. What is clear is that Heathrow has faced unprecedented growth this year, as passenger numbers rose faster and higher than any other European hub, with more than 18 million passengers using the airport this summer.
"We have seen thousands of people joining or returning to work across the 400 companies that operate here. After the two years of international travel lockdown, this was always going to be a tough year and colleagues across the airport have put in a monumental effort to meet those challenges. Our focus continues to be on building back capacity so that we can deliver the consistent, high-quality service our passengers expect at Heathrow.”