Air traveler satisfaction at U.S. airports has plummeted, according to J.D. Power’s 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.
Satisfaction levels are down 25 points on a 1,000-point scale compared with the 2021 report. And the lesson learned from comparing the two reports appears to be that an empty airport is a happy airport.
When travelers were surveyed in 2021, air travel had been greatly suppressed compared with pre-pandemic times. That made for less crowded terminals, and travelers gave high marks to their airport experience.
But this year, a much greater volume of travelers has resulted in record-high flight cancellations, mostly due to labor shortages. And travelers clearly are unhappy about the new situation.
In a summary of the study’s findings, Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, says airports today are “extremely crowded” and that passengers are “increasingly frustrated.” He adds that the situation is likely to last through 2023:
“In some ways, this is a return to normal as larger crowds at airports tend to make travelers more frazzled, 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 is clear that increased capacity in airports can’t come soon enough.”
Still, a handful of airports get relatively high satisfaction ratings on a 1,000-point scale. They are:
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport: 800
- San Francisco International Airport: 796
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport: 791
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (New York): 791
- Harry Reid International Airport (Paradise, Nevada): 790
- Tampa International Airport (Florida): 846
- John Wayne Airport, Orange County (Santa Ana, California): 826
- Dallas Love Field: 825
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport: 813
- Raleigh-Durham International Airport (North Carolina): 813
- Indianapolis International Airport: 842
- Pittsburgh International Airport: 839
- Jacksonville International Airport (Florida): 826
- Southwest Florida International Airport (Fort Myers): 826
- General Mitchell International Airport: (Milwaukee): 824
For the study, mega airports were defined as those with 33 million or more passengers per year. Large airports were defined as those with 10 million to 32.9 million passengers per year. Medium airports were defined as those with 4.5 million to 9.9 million passengers per year.
In compiling the rankings, J.D. Power conducted more than 26,500 surveys of U.S. and Canadian passengers who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport in the preceding 30 days. The firm looked at six factors. Listed in order of importance, they are:
- Terminal facilities
- Airport arrival/departure
- Baggage claim
- Security check
- Check-in/baggage check
- Food, beverage and retail
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