UK Airport Terminal Guides

Published by: BouncePosted

From a shortage of facilities, long queues every step of the way, and uncomfortable seats, spending time in an airport before traveling doesn’t always come easy. It often comes down to the terminal itself, how it manages large groups of customers, and what shops and eateries are on offer.

Find out which airports will ease you into a relaxing break (and which will cause so much stress you’ll need another holiday) here. 

The best airport terminals in the UK

1. Liverpool John Lennon - 7.71/10

Liverpool John Lennon ranks as the best airport terminal in the UK. The John Lennon terminal has a customer score of 82%, the highest on this list. This means 82% of customers were satisfied with the terminal and would recommend it to others. 

There is a decent range of shops at Liverpool John Lennon, including bookstores, souvenir shops, and clothing, all available before and after security control. There are many bars, restaurants, and cafes, including UK favorites like Subway and Wetherspoons and airport classics like the Food Village, Daytripper Bar, and Go Pizza. 

2. Southampton - 7.24/10

Southampton ranks in second place with an overall rating of 7.24/10. Southampton has a customer score of 77%. This and its range of shops are the only factors that score below Liverpool's John Lennon. It also has the shortest queues of any UK airport, averaging just nine minutes. This range of shops offered in Southampton’s terminal comes in at just 2/5 compared to John Lennon’s 3/5. 

Back in 2019, Southampton was presented the Airport of the Year award by the European Regional Airlines Association for services to the local community and reducing their carbon footprint. There’s a slightly smaller range of shops here, but you still have the essentials from World Duty Free, Olive Tree and Olive Cafe Bar, WHSmith, and Costa Coffee. 


3. Bournemouth - 6.81/10

Bournemouth, with a customer score of 75%, earns a solid ranking of 6.81/10, the third highest on this list. Where Bournemouth suffers is its queues at passport control, which earned a 3/5, a point below John Lennon, and a similarly limited range of shops as Southampton.  

Bournemouth also offers a limited range of shops, but there’s still a Navigator, World Duty Free, and WHSmith to get everything you need before departure. Before security, there are also hot drinks and food from the Coffee Pantry, a small independent artisan coffee shop & bar.

The worst airport terminals in the UK

1. Manchester T3 - 0.00/10

Manchester’s T3 terminal ranks as the worst airport terminal in the UK. Shockingly, Manchester T3 earns the lowest score of all terminals on all factors, including the highest number of 1/5 ratings of all terminals. Queues appear to be a main issue, with queues from the check-in desk to bag drop and security earning scores of 1/5 each. The customer score at Manchester T3 is a tepid 38%. 

Despite the terminal's abysmal overall rating, its Escape Lounge T3 has earned a solid score of 4.5/5 across 3,000 reviews on Google. Here, you can enjoy up to 3 hours of peace and quiet and avoid the bustle of Manchester Airport T3.

2. Manchester T1 - 0.46/10

Manchester T1 is the second Manchester terminal to rank in the three worst in the UK. Even Manchester’s T2 terminal ranks at a low 18th out of 22. T1 has a slightly better customer score than T3 at 44% and a slightly better range of shops and queueing ratings. Outside of that, the terminals rank pretty similarly. 

Manchester T1 offers a range of services to help you avoid the queues at this terminal. These include a security and passport control Fast Track and a Click & Collect service where you can reserve your airport shopping online and collect before you fly.

3. London Luton - 0.79/10

Rounding off the three worst airport terminals in the UK is London Luton, ranking a meager 0.79/10. London Luton again improves on the poor customer scores of Manchester’s T3 and T1 terminals, but only up to an apathetic 49%. This means that over half of customers were not satisfied with the terminal. Queues are long at London Luton, and the only upside is a slightly better range of shops than most other UK terminals. 

London Luton has one slight advantage over its peers: a slightly better range of shops. The shops at London Luton include an M&S, Parkway Express, Starbucks, Argos, Krispy Kreme, and Aelia-Duty Free UK.

Cody Candee, CEO and Founder of Bounce.com provides tips on how to select the best airport terminal to fly from:


“The best airports in the UK are all pretty small. Liverpool John Lennon transported 3.5 million passengers in 2022, and Southampton transported just 600,000. Both of these airports had customer scores of 77% or above.

“This contrasts significantly with the two lowest-rated terminals on this list. Both are located in Manchester Airport, which transported over 28 million passengers last year. None of Manchester’s terminals achieved customer scores over 50%.

“So, as a general rule, it might be wise to go with the smaller airports if possible. For example, Liverpool John Lennon and Manchester Airport, the UK's highest-rated and lowest-rated airports, are a mere 30-mile drive from each other. 

“However, this may not always be the case. It’s probably not worth driving for extra hours to avoid longer queues and overcrowding (although this depends on your tolerance for queuing). Additionally, smaller airports might not have the same range of destinations as bigger ones. 

“But, if it offers the right destination and isn’t too far away, switch to the smaller airport. It encourages the smaller, better-run airports to expand. For example, Liverpool recently joined Jet2 to add over 20 new holiday destinations to its roster for 2024.”

Methodology

All data was collected from Which?. Each factor was given a ranking, which combined to form the overall score for each airport:

  • Customer score, made up of overall satisfaction and recommendations, was given a weighting of 2
  • Each of the five queue factors, including baggage reclaim, was given 0.2 
  • The price of shops and range of shops factors were weighted as 0.5 each
  • All remaining factors were given weightings of 1

Terminals without data for at least 10 out of 11 factors were removed from the analysis.

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