(CNN) – The volume of air travel increased and passenger satisfaction decreased. This should have come as no surprise to anyone who has passed through an airport during the summer.
The JD Power 2022 study on North American airport satisfaction, released on Wednesday, showed that overall satisfaction fell by 25 points on a 1,000-point scale from 2021. Newark Liberty International Airport had the worst score among giant airports.
The overall satisfaction score for North American airports in 2022 was 777.
Passenger volume in the United States is approaching pre-pandemic levels. On Sunday, the US Transportation Security Administration screened 2,371,992 passengers at airport checkpoints. This number represents 94% of the same weekday in 2019.
But the new J.D. Power study says travelers are met with fewer flights, more crowded stops and limited food and drink options.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, a nationwide labor shortage, and ever-rising prices on everything from jet fuel to bottle water has created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated,” said Michael Taylor. J.D. Power, head of travel intelligence, said in a statement.
Taylor expects this unfortunate set of circumstances to continue into 2023.
The 25-point drop follows a record high level of satisfaction with North American airports – 802 on a 1,000-point scale – in last year’s study, which included passenger surveys from the second half of 2020.
But as this survey progressed through 2021, and the third and fourth waves of the study, passenger satisfaction steadily declined as passenger volume increased again.
The 2022 study was sent from August 2021 through July 2022 as air travel continued to recover.
Passengers wait in line inside the terminal building at Newark Liberty International Airport on November 24, 2021.
It was based on more than 26,500 surveys of residents of the United States or Canada who have traveled through at least one US or Canadian airport in the past 30 days. Travelers rated either a departing airport or an inbound return flight.
The study, now in its 17th year, looks at passenger satisfaction with airports in three categories: mega airports, large airports and medium airports.
Satisfaction is determined by considering six factors, listed in order of importance: terminal facilities, arrival / departure from the airport, baggage claim, security screening, check-in / baggage check, food and beverage and retail.
So what are the most satisfying airports for travelers? Which shortens the way?
Most and least satisfactory major airports in North America
Among the mega airports evaluated in the study—those with 33 million or more passengers a year—Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport ranks first in customer satisfaction with a score of 800 out of 1,000.
According to Taylor, the airport’s updated facilities have helped it rank first in terms of satisfaction. He said that last year’s construction and renovations showed up in this year’s results.
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, shown here in August 2022, received the best score for passenger satisfaction among the major airports in North America.
“Even while undergoing several ongoing construction and modernization projects this summer, MSP has enjoyed delays and cancellation numbers better than some other airports in its size class,” Bangs told CNN Travel in late August in response to questions about the airport’s summer performance. I attributed that to management and maybe fewer storms than some other big airports have experienced.
San Francisco International Airport (with a score of 796) and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (791) were among the top airports in the satisfaction study.
Newark Liberty International Airport is at the bottom of the list of huge airports, with a score of 719 out of 1,000.
Taylor said that airports undergoing major construction and renovations typically score poorly for airport facilities.
Passengers wait at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 1, 2022. The airport has suffered from cancellations and delays this summer.
Jenna Moon / Getty Images
Newark’s Terminal A repairs worth $2.7 billion are expected to open later this year, and there are big plans to improve the new building’s food, beverage and retail offerings.
“But these improvements won’t be available to passengers for some time,” Taylor said by email. “Rome wasn’t built in a day…and there are no new airport terminals.”
Also at the bottom of the list are Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (751) and Los Angeles International Airport (753).
Most and least satisfactory large and medium airports in North America
Among the large airports—those with 10 million to 32.9 million passengers a year—Tampa International Airport ranked first for customer satisfaction, with a score of 846 out of 1,000.
John Wayne Airport, California’s Orange County (826) and Dallas Love Field (825) also ranked high.
At the bottom of the list of large airports is Philadelphia International Airport (729).
Among the average airports—those with 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers a year—Indianapolis International Airport ranked highest with 842 out of 1,000.
Pittsburgh International Airport (839) and Jacksonville International Airport (826) were ranked second and third in terms of satisfaction.
Hollywood Burbank Airport in California was at the bottom of the list of average airports for passenger satisfaction, with a score of 763.
Top photo: Newark Liberty International Airport on May 30, 2022 (Photo by Yaroslav Sabitov/Shutterstock)
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