Author Topic: Southend voted UK's best airport ✈  (Read 866 times)

Offline thaiga

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Southend voted UK's best airport ✈
« on: August 24, 2014, 01:53:46 PM »
Passengers flying from a regional airport this Bank Holiday should be grateful to be avoiding a major hub, new research suggests

Southend was ranked most highly by customers for the second year in a row

Small UK airports were rated more highly than larger ones in a consumer survey released today – despite the fact that some actually make passengers pay to use them.

Larger airports have been failing customers on matters important to them, according to the Which? magazine, such as baggage reclaim, pick-up and drop-off procedures, queues at security and passport control.

Tiny Southend was ranked most highly by customers for the second year in a row, achieving a full five stars in seven out of ten categories. It shared the top spot with Doncaster Sheffield, with both airports receiving an impressive 85 per cent score from customers.

Blackpool Airport was ranked joint third, strange perhaps when you consider, as Telegraph Travel has previously noted, that you must pay a £10 airport development fee to even use the place. Durham, Norwich and Newquay also charge such a fee, to supplement investment in future improvements. The annoyance of the fee is perhaps offset however by car parking charges at other airports – at Blackpool it is free to park for up to 15 days. On the other hand, a check by Telegraph Travel at the time of going to press found that the price of a week in a long-stay car park at Heathrow terminals costs up to £78 this summer on comparison websites.

London City was judged joint third along with Blackpool (both 80 per cent), with Iverness and Southampton the other small airports to make up the top five as rated by 7,011 Which? members in an online survey conducted in June.

Newcastle airport was the highest rated of the larger airports but was only able to score 66 per cent, while Luton – described as a “hellhole” by one passenger - came bottom in the annual survey once again.

Scraping just above it, all with less than a 50 per cent score, were the bottom six: London Gatwick North Terminal (49 per cent); London Heathrow Terminal 4 (48 per cent); Heathrow Terminal 3 (46 per cent); Heathrow Terminal 1 (43 per cent) and then Stansted, second from bottom with 43 per cent.

Which? found that passengers were least satisfied with baggage reclaim, with 37 per cent of respondents naming it their biggest frustration.

Large airports were deemed to be the worst for queues at the carousel, with 14 of the 20 large airports looked at scoring only two stars.

The top five airports however all scored five stars for walking distance to the boarding gate, their small size once again making for a more relaxed and unhurried experience. Their lack of queues, both at security and passport control, also pushed them up the rankings.

Food outlets however was one category in which the otherwise highly-praised Southend and Blackpool airports dropped marks, with both receiving just one star for their limited range of on-site eateries. They suffer too from a lack of shops, with Southend, for example, not even containing a brand of Boots. Best not forget your toothbrush.

“There’s no doubt that most smaller British airports offer a much more pleasant experience than the major hubs,” said Nick Trend, our consumer expert. “You can usually park more cheaply and conveniently, check in later and get through arrivals much more quickly. The downside of course is that they can’t offer the huge range of direct flights and destinations available through rivals such as Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted.

“However, by using airlines such as KLM or Air France, which offer departures from several UK airports, and changing planes in Paris or Amsterdam, it is still possible to combine the convenience of travelling from a smaller regional airport with travel to a wide range of short and long-haul destinations. You just need to weigh up the relative cost and travelling time and see which works best for you.”     
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