Study Reveals Which North American Airports Travelers Find Most and Least Satisfying

Study Reveals Which North American Airports Travelers Find Most and Least Satisfying

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(CNN) — Air travel volume is up and passenger satisfaction is down. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has passed through an airport over the summer.

The JD Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, released Wednesday, shows a drop in overall satisfaction of 25 points on a 1,000-point scale from the 2021 score. Newark Liberty International Airport has the worst score among the mega-airports.

The overall satisfaction score for North American airports in 2022 was 777.

US passenger volume is approaching pre-pandemic levels. On Sunday, the United States Transportation Security Administration screened 2,371,992 passengers at airport checkpoints. This figure represents 94% of the same weekday in 2019.

But travelers are being greeted with fewer flights, busier terminals and limited food and drink options, according to new research from JD Power.

“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, nationwide labor shortages and steadily rising prices for everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water has created a scenario in which airports are extremely congested and passengers are increasingly frustrated,” said Michael Taylor. , head of travel intelligence at JD Power, in a statement.

And Taylor expects this unfortunate set of circumstances to continue through 2023.

The 25-point drop follows a record level of satisfaction with North American airports – 802 on a 1,000-point scale – in last year’s study, which included surveys of passengers from the second half of 2020.

But as this survey progressed through 2021 and into the third and fourth waves of the study, traveler satisfaction steadily declined as passenger volume climbed back up.

The 2022 study was conducted from August 2021 to July 2022 as air travel continued to rebound.

Passengers line up inside the terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport on November 24, 2021.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

It was based on more than 26,500 surveys of US or Canadian residents who have traveled to at least one US or Canadian airport in the past 30 days. Travelers rated a departure or arrival airport based on their round trip.

The study, now in its 17th year, examines traveler satisfaction with airports in three categories: mega airports, large airports and medium airports.

Satisfaction is determined by looking at six factors, ranked in order of importance: terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security screening, baggage check-in/screening , and food, beverage and retail.

So which airports satisfy travelers the most? And which ones are far from up to par?

North America’s Most and Least Satisfying Mega Airports

Of the mega-airports assessed in the study — those that handle 33 million or more passengers annually — Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport ranks first for customer satisfaction with a score of 800 out of 1 000.

The airport’s updated terminal facilities helped it earn the top spot for satisfaction, according to Taylor. Last year’s construction and renovations showed up in this year’s results, he said.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, seen here in August 2022, earned the highest score for traveler satisfaction among North America's mega airports.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, seen here in August 2022, earned the highest score for traveler satisfaction among North America’s mega airports.

Kirby Lee/AP

While some improvement projects are still underway, the airport had relatively smooth summer operations, noted Kathleen Bangs, a spokeswoman for flight-tracking site FlightAware who worked for the Minneapolis-St. Airport Commission Paul.

“Even undergoing numerous construction and upgrade projects this summer, MSP has experienced better delays and cancellation numbers than some other airports in its size class,” Bangs told CNN Travel in late August in response to questions about the summer performance of airports. She attributed this to management and possibly fewer storms than some other major airports.

San Francisco International Airport (with a score of 796) and Detroit Wayne County Metropolitan Airport (791) were also among the top airports in the satisfaction survey.

At the bottom of the list of mega airports is Newark Liberty International Airport, with a score of 719 out of 1,000.

Airports undergoing major construction and renovations typically score poorly on terminal facilities, Taylor said.

Travelers wait at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 1, 2022. The airport has been plagued with cancellations and delays this summer.

Travelers wait at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 1, 2022. The airport has been plagued with cancellations and delays this summer.

Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Newark’s $2.7 billion Terminal A overhaul is set to open later this year, and major plans are underway to improve the food, beverage and retail offerings in the new terminal.

“But these improvements won’t be available to passengers for some time. Rome wasn’t built in a day…and neither were new airport terminals,” Taylor said via email.

Newark scoring the lowest satisfaction rating among the largest airports probably comes as no surprise to summer travelers. High levels of cancellations and delays plagued the airport during the busy summer season.

Also at the bottom of the list: Chicago O’Hare International Airport (751) and Los Angeles International Airport (753).

Most and Least Satisfying Large and Medium North American Airports

Among major airports — those with 10 million to 32.9 million passengers a year — Tampa International Airport ranks first for customer satisfaction with a score of 846 out of 1,000.

John Wayne Airport, Orange County California (826) and Dallas Love Field (825) also ranked high.

At the bottom of the list of major airports was Philadelphia International Airport (729).

Among medium-sized airports — those that handle 4.5 million to 9.9 million passengers a year — Indianapolis International Airport ranks first with a score of 842 out of 1,000.

Pittsburgh International Airport (839) and Jacksonville International Airport (826) ranked second and third in satisfaction.

Hollywood Burbank Airport in California was at the bottom of the list of average airports for traveler satisfaction, with a score of 763.

Top image: Newark Liberty International Airport on May 30, 2022. (Photo by Yaroslav Sabitov/Shutterstock)

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