Customer satisfaction with North American airports falls in 2022: J.D. Power

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Air traveler satisfaction with North American airports fell in 2022, according to a study released Wednesday by the consumer research firm J.D. Power.

J.D. Power said its 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study found travelers' overall satisfaction with North American airports was 777 this year. That score fell 25 points on a 1,000-point scale from 2021, when air traveler satisfaction reached a record high, according to J.D. Power.

An aircraft takes off from O’Hare International Airport on Jan. 18, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"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.

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Factors that impacted overall customer satisfaction included there being fewer flights, busier terminals and "sparse food and beverage offerings," according to J.D. Power.

About 58% of air travelers said airport terminals were "severely or moderately crowded," just one point off from the percentage that described them that way in 2019, the study found. Satisfaction with surface parking lots dropped 45 points due to shortages of available spots. 

Travelers pass through Salt Lake City International Airport, Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Salt Lake City. The prices of gas, food and most other goods and services jumped in May, raising inflation to a new four-decade high and giving American household (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer / AP Newsroom)

Inflation has also impacted prices at airports, causing lower satisfaction with food and drink prices among air travelers. About 24% of passengers said they didn't buy food or drinks at the airport because prices were too high, J.D. Power said.

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According to the study, the mega airport with the highest traveler satisfaction in 2022 was the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with a score of 800. J.D. Power defined mega airports as those that see 33 million or more passengers annually. 

The San Francisco International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, and John F. Kennedy International Airport also got high rankings among mega airports.

Tampa Bay International Airport got ranked highest — 846 points — for large airports, which J.D. Power said get between 10 and 32.9 million passengers each year. Behind it were John Wayne Airport Orange County and Dallas Love Field, according to the study.

Flight attendants hand out refreshments to a packed Delta Airlines flight traveling from Ronald Regan National Airport to MinneapolisSaint Paul International Airport on Friday, May 21, 2021. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images) (Getty Images)

For medium airports, the Indianapolis International Airport got the highest rating (842) followed by Pittsburgh International Airport in second and Jacksonville International Airport and Southwest Florida International Airport tied for third, the study found.

J.D. Power described medium airports as those that have 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year.

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The study consisted of over 26,500 surveys of U.S. or Canadian residents that traveled through a minimum of one airport in either country in the prior 30 days. It was "fielded from August 2021 through July 2022," J.D. Power said in a press release.

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