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Heathrow Airport Voted Worst in the World… Again

BY Boon Koh
Published 23 October 2009

Heathrow Terminal 3 stranded Heathrow Airport has, again, been voted the worst airport in the world by members of the Priority Pass program. In its annual survey, the London airport has picked up the unflattering accolade for the second year running, despite the opening of the brand new Heathrow Terminal Five and repeated statements from the British Airport Authority (BAA) on the huge amounts of investment into the airport.

Frankly, the result is not a surprise at all for anyone travelling through London Heathrow Airport (LHR), although those going through the new Heathrow Terminal Five will be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Whilst the new terminal is spacious, efficient, and a pleasure to transit through, the other terminals, especially Terminal 3, is sometimes compared to travelling through hell. Terminal Five is an exclusive terminal only for British Airways flights and passengers.

Paris Charles-de-Gualle (CDG) Airport was voted the second worst airport by the 14,500 strong Priority Pass membership club, with Los Angeles International (LAX) Airport coming in third. Singapore Changi (SIN) Airport was the best airport overall, holding its crown for the second year running, while Hong Kong International Chek Lap Kok (HKG) Airport was the runner up.

The best airport in Europe was the Amsterdam Schipol (AMS) airport, which is rather surprising given that it pales in comparison to either Changi or Chek Lap Kok, but I suppose none of the major European airports are as good as the Asian airports, which are modern and well-maintained.

However, London Heathrow’s poor performance could have, ironically, been caused by the opening of Heathrow Terminal Five last year, which saw massive chaos, delays, and flight cancellations in the opening few weeks. These problems have been completely rectified, and indeed the terminal is running very smoothly now. The average delay has almost fallen by half from 18 minutes last year to 10 minutes this year. In addition, a recent poll by The Telegraph found that 80% of readers who used Terminal Five said they enjoyed the experience.

“The travellers who took part in this survey took almost 250,000 flights between them over the last year, and that means they know a thing or two about airports,” said Jonathan French, head of Brand for Priority Pass. “Sadly, Heathrow remains firmly entrenched as the airport the world loves to hate.”

Still, putting things into perspective for Londoners, Heathrow Airport is not the worst airport in London; that award will probably be given to Gatwick Airport or Stansted Airport, which I suspect most international frequent flyers don’t use that often and therefore wasn’t included in the voting.

Priority Pass run a membership-only club providing access to airport lounges in over 100 countries and 300 cities around the world. While normally you will have to travel by business or flight class on a flight in order to gain entry into an airport lounge, members of Priority Pass can gain entry into any of the Priority Pass or affiliated lounges at the airport, regardless if they are flying business or economy class. Find out more about Priority Pass membership here. For those who only fly infrequently but still want lounge access, the better solution is Lounge Pass, which operates in a pay-as-you-go system where you can book a lounge for as little as £13.50.

Top 3 airports in the world:

  • Singapore Changi Airport (SIN)
  • Hong Kong International Chep Lap Kok Airport (HKG)
  • Amsterdam Schipol Airport (AMS)

Bottom/worst 5 airports in the world:

  • London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Frankfurt International Airport (FRA)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)