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Heathrow is 'inferior to Calcutta'

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Page last updated: 8th Apr 2011 - 04:41 PM

Heathrow, widely known as one of the busiest airports in the world, is also one of the least popular with travellers, according to a report produced by the Airports Council International (ACI). The document, which was leaked to a number of newspapers, revealed that the London hub is not as attractive to passengers as Calcutta Airport in India, Moscow Airport in Russia, and Amsterdam Schiphol in Holland.

The ACI’s poll is an annual event, but the results are usually kept private. The only people who are allowed to see the report are involved with the airports themselves, such as the leaders of the British Airports Authority (BAA). ACI spokeswoman, Nancy Gautier, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the survey is paid for by the 146 airports featured in the rankings. The data is used to gauge levels of customer satisfaction.

Heathrow’s miserable performance can be attributed to its poor “ambience”, which likely refers to the overall quality of the environment inside the hub, and the long queues at security checkpoints. Frequent closures in December and ongoing capacity problems at the airport have also had a detrimental effect on Heathrow’s popularity.

In response to the ACI poll, BAA representative, Andrew Teacher, claimed that two-thirds of travellers are in fact, delighted with the London hub. “The facts show Heathrow as the second-best airport in Europe.” Mr. Teacher’s comments are at odds with previous airport surveys, which saw Heathrow voted the worst hub for delays in 2007, the worst for shopping in 2010, and the rather more ignominious title, worst airport on earth, in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Coming in at 99th in the ACI’s poll of world airports seems like an achievement in comparison.

The BAA can at least take solace in knowing that Heathrow is more popular than Frankfurt Airport in Germany (126th place), Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in France (137th), and Melbourne Airport in Australia (104th). The BAA’s other hub in London, Stansted, took 111th place, behind Gatwick in 106th position. At the other end of the scale, Singapore Changi, which won 25 awards in 2010 alone, is the world’s favourite airport, closely followed by Seoul Incheon Airport in South Korea, and Hong Kong International in China.

Comments - 5

1. my travel experience

29th Jul 2011 - 03:38 PM

Travel to Marco Polo airport in Italy, staff there show you where to get the bus etc. Go to an English airport staff, they tell you where to go in a totally different way :/
I asked staff in London to help me and got shouted at and ignored.
I found this page while trying to get a contact to speak to a human at heathrow airport - those machines with "press this" do not have the option I want, then hang up instead of putting me through to an operator.

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2. Henry Harris

13th Aug 2011 - 05:35 PM

I must admit to avoiding Heathrow when at all possible. The reasons are numerous but as an example I would comment as follows:
Walking distances are extreme between aircraft and terminal.
Immigration staff have little respect for travellers and generally seem to view them as an inconvenience.
Pedestrian routings are confusing and circuitous. I managed to by-pass one check point only to have to run the length of the terminal when denied access to my onward flight until I had returned for an iris scan-- almost causing me to have a heart attack.
The airport seems to neglect its primary function as an air terminal in favour of competing as a shopping mall, which also adds to confusion and the distraction of passengers

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3. David Nicholls

4th Apr 2012 - 02:53 PM

Terminal 4 is like walking into a cave, it is so dark and opressive, there are very few places to eat and what there is are not up to much. Give me Gatwick any day.

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4. Disillusioned

28th Apr 2012 - 09:41 PM

I am dreading our trip from Heathrow in May. I find the staff rude, the airport as far as I am concerned is only second to Chicago for inconvenience and lack of courtesy. It seems heathrow employs jobsworths and customer care is non existent. When we travelled last September, I was treated rudely and had my passport thrown back at me when I needed assistance with kiosk that prints your boarding pass..Some of us are very tired and do not understand how to operate these machines.

I am amazed that there is not lounge at Terminal 4 that you can book into unless you are travelling Business or First Class. When will BAA listen to what is needed?

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5. monique

12th Jun 2012 - 02:02 AM

Heathrow airport is by far the worst airport in the universe. I am unlucky enough to fly via London on my onward trip, and when I was searching for facilities for transit passengers @ LHR, there are non-existent. They don't even have shower facilities. I have an 18 hour layover @ LHR, and I am already dreading it. There are very limited dining options there too.

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