Luton rated Britain’s worst airport for fifth year in a row

‘Penny-pinching’ Bedfordshire hub receives lowest ever score in annual poll of passengers carried out by Which?

Luton airport has been named the worst in the UK for the fifth consecutive year, after passengers branded it a “rip-off” charging penny-pinching prices despite constant overcrowding, reports The Guardian.

The Bedfordshire hub received a score of 29 per cent, the lowest ever in the annual airports survey carried out by Which? consumer group.

Home to short-haul airlines easyJet and Monarch, London Luton has been undergoing a £110m expansion

Doncaster Sheffield notched up the top overall score in the poll of passengers’ experiences of the UK’s 31 airport terminals, published on Thursday in Which? Travel.

Disgruntled Luton users gave the hub the lowest possible score – one star out of five – in five of the 10 categories, including queues at security, range of shops and food outlets, provision of seating, toilet facilities and staff helpfulness.

In the other five, Luton garnered only two stars – queues for bag drop, check-in and security control, shop prices and baggage reclaim.

Which? said: “The £110m Luton expansion project, which began last year and aims to increase capacity by 50 per cent by 2020, cannot have helped the appallingly low customer satisfaction score of 29%.

“But Luton has languished at the bottom of our survey for five years, and building work is no excuse for the one-star staff rating – or lack of sufficient seats, shops or toilets and the penny-pinching prices.”

However, the hub said the Which? findings did not match its ongoing customer service survey, which had responses from 1.7 million people.

“We’re disappointed in these results as they don’t accurately reflect the experience of the majority of our passengers. Which? polled just 435 of its subscribers who had travelled through London Luton airport between May 2016 and May 2017 – the most intensive phase of the airport’s redevelopment,” the airport said.

“Some 75 per cent told us they were happy with their experience, a 5 per cent improvement on the same period last year. Since then we have made significant improvements to the airport’s infrastructure, added new shops and restaurants and passenger services, such as free wifi.

“As Which? acknowledges, the airport is currently undergoing the biggest transformation in its history. We appreciate the patience of our passengers as we develop the airport, which will result in a better experience for everyone.”

Customer satisfaction at airports attracting more than 10 million passengers every year was getting worse, the survey found. The scores for all but two of the large airports declined since last year, as passenger numbers across the country continue to rise.

The scores for all airports, with the exception of Doncaster Sheffield and Southend, slipped year on year, and only four of the UK’s 31 terminals scored more than two stars for prices in shops and food outlets.

Doncaster Sheffield and Southend – the latter regarded as the best alternative to Luton for travellers in and around London – scored five stars for customer service, but both are small airports with limited services and destinations.

Birmingham and Heathrow Terminal 5 were voted joint best large airport, notching up a customer score of 61 per cent. Heathrow T3 and T4 scored 52 per cent – the same as Gatwick’s South Terminal; Heathrow T2 fared slightly better at 57 per cent. Gatwick’s North Terminal received 51 per cent.

Manchester airport scored 43 per cent for T3 and 53 per cent for T2. Aberdeen was another poor performer with 44 per cent.

Which? subscribers completed the online survey in April and May and were asked to rate the airports they had used over the past year.

The results are based on 10,532 separate experiences, Which? said, with the final score based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of a recommendation to a friend or relative.