Study: Travelers’ Satisfaction With Airports Has Stagnated. Here’s Why.

Overall passenger satisfaction with North American airports has only risen by 1 point (on a 1,000-point scale) in the past year, as per a new study released by J.D. Power. Studies in previous years had shown steady increases in travelers’ satisfaction, so this relative stagnation is new. However, the reasoning behind the change in satisfaction levels is very real and understood.

Construction.

Joe and I have reported on the messes some airlines have become due to construction:

With similar construction projects happening in airports all over the country, it’s easy to see why overall passenger satisfaction with North American airports was 762 on a 1,000-point scale. Last year it was 761, with more travelers citing construction-related delays getting into and out of the airport.

“With major terminal construction projects now underway in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and many other airports, it is becoming impossible for travelers not to experience some form of disruption,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “While these projects are absolutely necessary to address surging demand, they are currently causing passenger delays and confusion. This translates into a rushed passenger experience and less money spent on food, beverage and retail—and it’s slowing the progress of the airport satisfaction we’ve seen in the past several years.”

The 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study measures overall traveler satisfaction with mega (33,000,000+ passengers per year), large (10 to 32.9 million passengers) and medium (4.5 to 9.9 million) North American airports by looking at six factors (in order of importance): terminal facilities; airport accessibility; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.

The ranking for each category included:

Mega Airports:

  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (786 out of 1000)
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport/Wold (779)
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport and Orlando International Airport tied (777).

Large Airports

  • Portland (Ore.) International Airport(833 out of 1000)
  • Dallas Love Field (826)
  • Tampa International Airport (822)

Medium Airports

  • Indianapolis International Airport (833 out of 1000)
  • Jacksonville International Airport (831)
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport (829)

Click here for the complete rankings.

On the happier end of things, improved TSA processes (i.e. more widespread biometric screening) have improved passenger satisfaction 5 points.

There’s also light at the end of the tunnel. As per the study, “The common bond among top-performing airports such as Detroit Metropolitan, Portland International and Indianapolis International is relatively new facilities that accommodate increased passenger volume, incorporate localized food and beverage offerings and offer easy access. Airports that can handle larger numbers of passengers while providing such experiences see a payoff in the form of improved satisfaction scores.”

So hopefully as construction projects end and more passengers can be accommodated, our level of satisfaction with airports will be on the rebound.

Click here for a brief review of the J.D. Power study.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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