Traveller’s Paradise and Nightmare: Best and Worst Airports of the UK


When it goes about the airport, there are multiple factors to estimate while only some are relevant to passenger satisfaction. For example, huge building and busy halls might be disorienting. Not to mention densely written arrival boards with numerous flights and various statuses (like that of Gatwick departures ).

Meanwhile, the large table screen with just a few flights, spacious hall with multiple comfortable seats and the cosy cafe might compensate for the limited connections and tiny parking lots in small airports. 

Let’s list the most important airport parameters for travellers:

  • Queue timing. The more you stand in the queue, the more irritation and worse impression you’ll have from the airport. Lots of seats, cafes, and free trolleys don’t make up for the time spent in the exhausting queues. The queue timing depends on the security and check-in procedures adopted at the airport. Presence of E-gates and preliminary check-in help reduce the timing a lot.
  • Seats & lounges. Limited seating is a traveller’s nightmare, even if there are no queues. You might need a place to rest for a while, check your bag in order to find the baggage tag, money, to make some notes, etc. If all the seats are busy and the lounge is far away, the airport rank will fall inevitably. The presence of budget-friendly cafes, though, might save it.
  • Flight timing accuracy. Travellers often have a tight schedule. That’s why the delay for more than 15 minutes might spoil their mood considerably. If the delay is past one hour, the airport rank might drop completely. Such delays often entail a bunch of cancellations and postponement (taxi order, business meeting, etc.). Otherwise, the accurate timing, like that of Gatwick departures, can sometimes compensate for crowded halls and lengthy passages.

There are hundreds of factors forming a personal airport experience. Surveys sum up this experience and provide a chart of the best and worst UK airports. Below is the review providing a combined conclusion of these surveys.

3 UK’s Best and Worst Airports 

Here are three of the UK most traveller-friendly airports:

  • Doncaster Sheffield (DSA). This small airport handles a bit over one million passengers yearly. Its only terminal scores high for flight timing accuracy, there are almost no queues due to fast security procedure. The airport’s infrastructure is friendly to people with children and people with special needs.
  • Glasgow (GLA). This largest airport in Scotland serves almost 9 million travellers yearly who fly to more than 100 destinations in the UK and worldwide. Though large, the airport has good flight planning and timing and comprehensive layout. It also has a lot of amenities on each level including shops, cafes, restaurants, etc. 
  • London Heathrow (LHR). With 88 million passengers turnover, London Heathrow is the busiest and largest UK airport. Its four terminals provide ample seating, lounges, shops, currency exchange, business conference rooms, and in-house hotel. There are special areas for children and the facilities for people with special needs.

Now, let’s take a look at the airports that currently impress their visitors the least:

  • London Stansted (STN). With 27 million travellers arriving and departing yearly, the STN is one of the largest London and UK airports. Its flight schedule is very tight and has numerous flights (it’s overrun only by Manchester, Heathrow and, Gatwick airport flight arrivals and departures numbers). However, its terminal passages are narrow (one is airway type), and there are no sleeping facilities at the airport. STN is also 30 miles away from London while the Express train connection is quite fast.
  • Belfast International (BFS). Providing a landing and departure point for more than 6 million passengers, BFS makes the biggest airport in Northern Ireland. Its single terminal is large and not easy to find a way through. There are standard amenities of cafes and shops while the airport-to-city infrastructure offers various ways of connection (taxi, train, bus).
  • London Luton (LTN). The UK’s fifth-largest airport, LTN sees almost 17 million travellers yearly. It has a fast direct railway connection with London letting reach the city within an hour. Still, the queues are frequent here while there are only a few free seats.  Free Wi-Fi is provided for the first 4 hours of visit only, which isn’t handy for travellers with long connection gaps. 

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