/ Travel & Leisure

What’s your biggest airport bugbear?

Airport queue

What’s your biggest gripe when you’re at an airport? We surveyed more than 1,000 Which? members to tell us what frustrates them most before they fly off for their holidays…

If we can ignore late or delayed flights, there isn’t much that gets me down at airports.

But it would be good if airports could provide more space to get dressed again after passing through security.

At busy times it’s obvious that there will be a bottleneck of holiday makers putting on belts and shoes and re-packing bags but the space to do this never seems to be adequate.

It reminds me of the supermarket checkout experience; you’ve paid for your shopping, but still packing your bags and the checkout assistant starts putting through the next customer’s shopping – causing unnecessary stress at a time you really don’t need it.

What we’re asked to unpack, pack or remove at airport security has changed over recent years and there are good reasons for this, but the space to do it in feels like it’s just the same.

Endless airport security queues

We asked Which? members what their biggest airport frustrations are. Top of the list is the endless queue to get through security, followed by paying to drop-off and pick-up passengers. And completing the top three is the price of airport parking.

But some people simply aren’t bothered by the stresses of finding a parking space or queuing for security – 10% said they didn’t find anything frustrating at all about UK airports.

Top airport frustrations survey results

• Queuing for security (49%)
• Paying to drop off/pick up passengers (47%)
• Price of airport car parking (46%)
• Lack of seating, such as too few seats or uncomfortable seating (43%)
• Queuing at passport control (43%)
• Queuing at check-in (41%)
• Price of food at outlets (39%)
• Waiting at baggage reclaim (37%)
• Lack of space to dress after security (37%)
• Having to walk long distances between terminals (35%)

What’s your biggest frustration when you go to the airport?

Geoff P says:
5 July 2014

I had a serious problem at Gatwick Airport and complained. Sadly I never got a satisfactory reply from them, it seemed to be swept under the carpet.
We flew to Jerez on a Thompsons package tour with our 18 month son. On the flight home my son was sick on me and later went into a deep sleep. On arrival at Gatwick I asked for our pushchair as he was still asleep. My request was turned down and I had to carry him in my arms for a long, long way. I have had a heart attack and was feeling very angry and struggling to carry him. My wife carried our hand luggage.
When I complained by email Gatwick blamed the tour company and the handling agent. Neither replied as Gatwick had asked them to.
There are 2 problems here, one is the ridiculous amount of walking required to reach the plane and the second is not being able to get your child’s pushchair on arrival.
Incredibly Jerez airport gave you the pushchair as you disembarked the plane….which airport is more civilised?!

fisher says:
6 July 2014

Having checked in for my flight at an SE of England airport i was astonished to find i needed to purchase a £3 ticket to proceed through to security and into the departure lounge – held to ransom – pay or don’t fly !


fisher – Please advise which airport.

fisher says:
6 July 2014



I just checked and was amazed to find that that would appear to be thet Airport Development Fee and is £10, not £3!

http://www.norwichairport.co.uk/faq.asp ans scroll down a bit.

That really is outrageous. You already pay to use the airport in landing charges as part of your ticket price. They say that Newquay Cornwall Airport, Blackpool International Airport and Durham Tees Valley Airport run this scam too.



Cannot see any mention of a £3 fee which seems bizarre. I see that there is an executive lounge which has an unmentioned charge – could that be it? Though from what you write unlikely.


fisher says:
6 July 2014

No – no mention in any of the bumph anywhere. It was a couple of years ago and i’ve retired now thankfully after 40 years of extensive traveling around the world – land sea and air. I understand the charges have gone up at some airports considerably. Vancouver also comes to mind – confronted with a $20 fee to get into the departure area. That’s stopped now tho. Staycations for me now.


On the home page of the Norwich Airport website [norwichairport.co.uk] there is a prominent box labelled Airport Development Fee [ADF] which links through to a page about this levy which explains how it works, says what it’s used for, and seeks to justify it. It pre-empts, but does not answer, Nick Davies’ point above with the following devious words –

“Norwich International has decided to collect the ADF in an open and transparent manner, and all airlines operating from the airport are aware of its existence as a charge payable locally in addition to the flight ticket costs and associated taxes / charges”.


Yes, ‘devious’ is not an unfair term, although I can think of other less printable adjectives to describe Norwich’s ‘Airport Development Fee’.

At least Ryanair, in attempting to charge passengers extra at every opportunity, give something tangible in return (even if it’s only a trip to the loo or whatever) on the day in question, whereas Norwich’s ADF is nothing less than shameless daylight robbery : compulsory extraction of money today for nothing other than the possibility of improved facilities should the victims choose to return at some time in the future.

We chose not to; Luton or Stansted are at least as attractive as departure points, do not try to charge us a sizeable extra sum every time we use them for a family trip and are worth the extra miles we have to drive to get there.

BillP says:
6 July 2014

I Never fly now, but take the train or drive where I can, I refuse to fly simply because the treatment I receive at airports leaves me angry and frustrated, I think it says it all when you can BUY a security fastpass at some airports.
While I am aware of the need for security, I think we wrongly believe it has to be super visible and inconvenient for the passengers just so we know that they are looking after us, common sense has gone out the window, however since most UK airports are running at almost full capacity there is absolutely no incentive for them to change their ways.
Don’t get me started on Airport parking scams… 🙂


I agree about fast track security. When flying from Madrid recently, I looked for the fast track security lane (as I would be entitled to use it), but I couldn’t find it. I then discovered that Madrid operates one security channel for all passengers with no queue. This is how it should be.

Jeremy says:
6 July 2014

Latest annoyance is Ryanair staff trying to bully us into putting hand luggage in the hold. On our flight from East Midlands recently they wanted us to put luggage in the hold. We said that we would if they could guarantee it wouldn’t be damaged. They declined to do this and we declined to put the luggage in the hold. When we came to board the supervisor stopped us, claimed we’d been rude and was very threatening. Our written complaint is on the way.

IanB says:
6 July 2014

Jeremy, this has been standard practice at BA for quite some time and I fly with them short-haul every week. There is not enough room in the overheads to accomodate all the bags being brought onboard these days and those that won’t fit go in the hold. Ryanair’s 737-800 max number of bags overhead is, I think, 90 but BA’s is much less on their smaller A319’s. It follows that, on busy flights, there will always be some bags that have nowehere else to go other than in the hold. I have yet to see any passenger refuse to have their bags put in the hold if asked. It’s free. NO AIRLINE will guarantee that luggage will not be damaged so, in fairness, that was an unreasonable request.