New Study Finds Improved Airport Experience

Improved retail and dining experiences help lead to higher marks for airports By: Kenneth Shapiro
Travelers are increasingly satisfied with their airport experiences. // © 2016 iStock
Travelers are increasingly satisfied with their airport experiences. // © 2016 iStock

The Details

J.D. Power

According to the “J.D. Power 2015 North America Airline Satisfaction Study,” overall traveler satisfaction with the airport experience averages 725 (on a 1,000-point scale), an improvement from 690 in 2010 (the last time the study was conducted). Overall satisfaction with large airports is 719, up from 665 in 2010, and satisfaction with medium airports is 752, a 69-point increase.

Why It Matters:
In recent years, airports have placed a greater emphasis on terminal facilities and overall passenger experience — and this shift seems to be working. Portland International Airport ranks highest in satisfaction among large airports (791). It’s followed by Tampa International Airport (776) and McCarran International Airport (759). Dallas Love Field and Southwest Florida International Airport tie for top rank among medium airports (792). Indianapolis International Airport and Raleigh-Durham International Airport rank third, in a tie at 789.

Fast Facts:
- Important factors in airport satisfaction include: check-in and security line efficiency; gate cleanliness; and airport transportation options.

- Among the generational groups, satisfaction is highest among millennials and travelers in Gen X, who spend substantially more on food, beverages, merchandise and services in the airport than boomers and pre-boomers.

- Dissatisfied airport travelers are the most likely to share their experience with others. Those who rate overall satisfaction 1 (on a 10-point scale) make an average of 13 negative comments about their experience. Conversely, those who rate their experience a 10 make an average of five positive mentions.

- The study also measures the experience of North American travelers arriving at and departing from international airports. Collectively, airports in Asia Pacific — which includes Australia, India, the Pacific islands and Russia — have the highest overall satisfaction (761), followed by Europe (740), North America (725), Mexico/Caribbean, including Central America (717), South America (702) and Africa/Middle East (696).

What They Are Saying:
“Most airports have really made a tremendous shift over the past six years and are now focused on managing the end-to-end experience for their travelers,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “It’s no longer just about getting travelers from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible; it’s about making the airport experience enjoyable.”

“Travelers now are substantially more satisfied with retail experiences in their airport,” said Jeff Conklin, vice president of the utility and infrastructure practice at J.D. Power. “Airports that have responded to this demand by offering a variety of food, beverage, merchandise and other attractive services and amenities are realizing significant gains in overall customer satisfaction.”