Construction dents passenger satisfaction

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North American airports are struggling to keep travelers happy amid construction delays and surging passenger volumes, marketing specialist JD Power has revealed.

Record passenger volumes are forcing major expansion efforts at airports, but the road closures, confusing signage and delays that come with these projects are making it hard on passengers, according to the results of the newly released JD Power 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. Overall passenger satisfaction with North American airports rose only a single point (on a 1,000-point scale) year on year, following several years of steady improvement.

“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 JD 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 key findings of the 2019 study include:

  • The overall customer satisfaction score this year for North American airports is 762, up one point from 2018. The modest performance is attributable to lower-than-average facility access scores, with larger numbers of travelers citing construction-related delays getting into and out of the airport.
  • The common bond among top-performing airports such as DetroitMetropolitan, 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.
  • The experience of getting through airport security has improved by five points due to improved TSA processing and more widespread adoption of biometric screening technologies that move passengers through security faster.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport ranked highest in passenger satisfaction among mega airports with a score of 786. Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (779) ranked second, while Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (777) and Orlando International Airport (777) shared third place.

Portland (Oregon) International Airport ranked highest among large airports, with a score of 833. Dallas Love Field (826) ranked second and Tampa International Airport (822) third.

The highest placed medium-sized airport was Indianapolis International Airport, with a score of 833, followed by Jacksonville International Airport (831) and Buffalo Niagara International Airport (829).

The 2019 North America Airport Satisfaction Study measured overall traveler satisfaction with mega, large and medium North American airports by examining six factors: terminal facilities; airport accessibility; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail. Mega airports are those having 33 million or more passengers per year; large airports have 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year; and medium airports have 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year.

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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