J.D. Power: North American Airport Satisfaction Drops 25 Points

As fewer people traveled during the pandemic, air traveler satisfaction with North American airports reached an all-time high in 2021, according to J.D. Power. But with passenger volumes now growing to near pre-pandemic levels and “rampant flight cancellations” due to labor shortages and other factors, there has been a 25-point drop to 777 on an ascending 1,000-point scale in the J.D. Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, released Wednesday.

“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,” J.D. Power travel intelligence lead Michael Taylor said in a statement. 

The survey measures overall traveler satisfaction with North American airports. It examines six factors, in order of importance: terminal facilities; airport arrival and departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in and baggage check; and food, beverage and retail. 

J.D. Power also classified airports as mega, large and medium. Mega have 33 million or more passengers per year, large airports have 10 million to 32.9 million passengers, and medium airports have 4.5 million to 9.9 million.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport scored the highest among mega airports at 800. Newark Liberty International Airport had the lowest mega satisfaction score at 719. The segment average was 769. 

Tampa International Airport took top honors for large airports with a score of 846. Philadelphia International Airport was at the bottom with a satisfaction score of 729. The segment average was 784. 

Of medium-size airports, Indianapolis International Airport came out with the highest score at 842. Hollywood Burbank Airport was at the other end of the rankings with 763. The segment had an average satisfaction score of 807. 

Overall, more than half of survey respondents described airport terminals as “severely or moderately crowded,” in line with the 59 percent who said as much in the 2019 survey. Nearly one in four (24 percent) said they did not make any food or beverage purchases at the airport because they were too expensive, up from 20 percent in 2021 and 23 percent in 2019, according to the report.

Parking has become a bigger issue, with its satisfaction dropping 45 points from 2021. About 14 percent of respondents said parking was more expensive than expected, up from 11 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2021, according to J.D. Power.

“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,” Taylor said.

The 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study is based on 26,529 responses from U.S. or Canadian residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport in the prior 30 days and covers both departure and arrival experiences. The study was fielded from August 2021 through July 2022.

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