Passenger satisfaction at U.S. airports reached an all-time high in early 2021. The sheer number of air travelers was notably low because fewer people were traveling due to COVID-19 restrictions and concerns. Now, however, the situation has changed.
Indeed, the volume of global air travelers has climbed back up to around 90 percent of what it was before the pandemic. Now, passengers must contend with fewer flights, a record number of flight cancellations, crowded airport terminals, and relatively few food and beverage vendors.
The result, according to the J.D. Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, is that passengers’ overall satisfaction with North American airports has fallen 25 points on a 1,000-point scale since last year.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage, and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated — and it is likely to continue through 2023,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement.
“In some ways, this is a return to normal as larger crowds at airports tend to make travelers more frazzled,” Taylor continued. “But in cases where parking lots are over capacity, gates are standing room only, and restaurants and bars are not even open to offer some reprieve, it’s clear that increased capacity in airports can’t come soon enough.”
The Process Of Grading Airports
This is the 17th year in a row that J.D. Power has conducted its North America Airport Satisfaction Study.
The findings are based on 26,529 surveys completed by U.S. and Canadian residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport within 30 days of taking the survey. The study was conducted from August 2021 through July 2022.
To gauge their overall satisfaction with an airport, survey participants were asked about six key factors. In order of importance, these factors were: Terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage, and retail.
Key Survey Findings About Airports
If you’ve traveled through airports this year, chances are you already know what the survey’s findings show.
This year, for instance, overall customer satisfaction with North American airports fell 25 points to a score of 777 as air travelers face a high number of flight cancellations and crowded terminals. Interestingly, 58 percent of the survey’s participants described the airport terminal as “severely or moderately crowded,” J.D. Power explains.
It isn’t just the airports’ terminals that are crowded, either. Traveler satisfaction was also down 45 points this year as air travelers noted there was a shortage of parking spaces at the airport.
Finally, inflation also had an impact on the overall satisfaction of North American air travelers with airports. For example, 24 percent of the survey’s participants said they did not purchase any food or beverages at the airport because they were too expensive.
And, again, that dissatisfaction spilled out into the parking lots as well. Indeed, 14 percent of the survey’s respondents indicated parking was more expensive than they expected.
Airports With The Highest Ratings
The J.D. Power study also notes which airports (by size) the survey participants were most satisfied with.
Top 10 Mega Airports
Mega airports are defined as airports with 33 million or more passengers per year. Among all mega airports in North America, those with the highest customer satisfaction scores are as follows (with the segment average score at 769):
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport: 800
- San Francisco International Airport: 796
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport: 791
- Harry Reid International Airport: 790
- Orlando International Airport: 786
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport: 782
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: 778
- Miami International Airport: 770
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport: 768
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: 765
Top 10 Large Airports
The second category is large airports, which serve 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year. Among all large airports in North America, those with the highest customer satisfaction scores are as follows (with the segment average score at 784):
- Tampa International Airport: 846
- John Wayne Airport, Orange County: 826
- Dallas Love Field: 825
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and Raleigh-Durham International Airport: 813
- Salt Lake City International Airport: 804
- Portland International Airport and William P. Hobby Airport: 803
- San Antonio International Airport: 802
- Sacramento International Airport: 798
- Vancouver International Airport: 794
- Nashville International Airport: 790
Top 10 Medium Airports
The final category is medium airports, which serve 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year. Among all medium airports in North America, those with the highest customer satisfaction scores are as follows (with the segment average score at 807):
- Indianapolis International Airport: 842
- Pittsburgh International Airport: 839
- Jacksonville International Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport: 826
- General Mitchell International Airport: 824
- Albuquerque International Sunport: 819
- Palm Beach International Airport: 816
- Ontario International Airport: 813
- Buffalo Niagara International Airport: 809
- Ottawa/Macdonald-Cartier International Airport: 806
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport: 803
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