Belfast International rated worst airport in UK
Belfast International has been rated as the UK's worst airport after passengers expressed frustration over long queues, crowds and limited shopping options.
Northern Ireland's busiest airport ranked bottom of an annual survey by consumer group Which? encompassing 30 British airports and major terminals.
It received a customer approval rating of just 42% - compared to Belfast City's 67% - scoring one star in the categories of seating, staffing and queuing at security.
A spokeswoman for the airport acknowledged it had faced challenges in the last 18 months, but said passenger satisfaction levels were improving since an upgrade to security facilities.
She said: "We acknowledge the operational challenges passengers have faced over the last 18 months, but since the Which survey was carried out Belfast International has seen a noticeable improvement in satisfaction levels since completing a £1m reconfiguration and expansion of Central Search security facility.
"This investment is having a positive effect. A new tracking system shows the time it takes to process through security is averaging below 15 minutes."
The spokeswoman said the airport had made "considerable strides" to improve the passenger experience, including through "enhanced" food and drink options.
London Luton (43%) came in second-to-last place in the Which? ranking after spending three consecutive years as the UK's worst rated airport. Which? said customers criticised its limited seating and congested security queues.
Manchester Terminal 3 (47%), London Stansted (49%), Aberdeen (50%) and Manchester Terminal 1 (50%) were also placed at the bottom of the rankings - which drew on more than 6,000 airport customer experiences.
Doncaster Sheffield retained its crown as the country's best-rated airport for the third year running with a score of 86%, achieving five-star accolades for queuing experiences at security and passport control.
London Southend (79%), Southampton (77%), Exeter (73%) and Bournemouth (72%) made up the rest of the top five best-rated airports.
Glasgow International earned Scotland's best score with 64%, Cardiff achieved 61%, and London Southend's 79% was the best for airports linked to the capital.
Among the airports with more than 10m passengers a year, Heathrow Terminal 5 had the best overall customer score of 66%.
The Which? research, conducted in April and May, was based on a survey of 4,499 of its members about 6,237 airport experiences. Some 68 were questioned about Belfast International.
Scores were based on a combination of overall satisfaction and how likely respondents were to recommend the airport.
Naomi Leach of Which? Travel said: "It is clear that smaller airports are generally outperforming their larger counterparts with seamless security checks and friendly staff making the biggest impression with flyers.
"So if you have the luxury of choice when it comes to which airport you fly from, choose Doncaster Sheffield over Leeds Bradford, Southend over Luton, Edinburgh over Aberdeen and Belfast City over Belfast International for a smoother start to your journey."