It's official: London's best airport isn't actually in London

Oliver Gill
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The first flight took off from an armed forces airbase set up at Southend in 1914

As the summer holidays draw to a close, perhaps the most harrowing experience is dragging you and your family through the airport to get to sunnier climes.

Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of airports on offer. The best? London Southend, according to consumer champs from Which magazine.

The Essex-based London airport walloped the competition. It received a customer satisfaction score of 84 per cent, 16 percentage points ahead of second-placed London City.

Passengers were asked to fill out an online survey and rank airports across eight categories. London Southend received a five-star rating in two of them, for staff friendliness and helpfulness. It also received four stars in another five out of eight categories assessed: baggage reclaim, seating, toilets, and queues at security and passport control.

Read more: Private jet usage has gone up 25 per cent, London Southend reports

The customer's choice: London's best airport

Rank Airports rated Customer Score
1 London Southend 84%
2 London City 68%
3 Heathrow Terminal 5 61%
4 Heathrow Terminal 2 57%
5 Gatwick South Terminal 52%
6 Heathrow Terminal 3 52%
7 Heathrow Terminal 4 52%
8 Gatwick North Terminal 51%
9 London Stansted 38%
10 London Luton 29%

Source: Which survey

The boss of Stobart Stobart Aviation, which owns of London Southend Airport, was delighted at the news his airport had topped the rankings. But he hit out at local competitors and policy.

Glyn Jones said:

It shows just how badly customers are being let down by aviation policy, which has led to appalling congestion both in the air and on the ground. This failure affects London passengers in particular and this survey reflects the frustration they’re suffering on a daily basis.

London Luton got one star in half of the categories and was described as "chaos", "crowded" and a "rip-off".

How far away?

Airport Distance by road to Charing Cross Fastest public transport to Charing Cross
London Southend 42 miles 81 minutes
London Stansted 39 miles 63 minutes
London Luton 34 miles 59 minutes
London Gatwick 28 miles 51 minutes
London Heathrow 20 miles 40 minutes
London City 9 miles 33 minutes

Source: Google Maps

Read more: Southend Airport could take off with 50 airlines circling


Outside of the "capital" Doncaster Sheffield airport topped the national rankings with a customer satisfaction ranking of 87 per cent.

A spokesperson for Which said:

If you’re lucky enough to always fly from Doncaster Sheffield or London Southend then you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about.

“Passengers at these smaller airports told us that they breezed through well-equipped, queue-free terminals aided by friendly staff. The experience was so good, in fact, that some told us they are willing to drive that bit further to use a better airport.”

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