Although airports have maintained historically strong customer satisfaction scores throughout the pandemic, those numbers dropped significantly through the second and third quarters of 2021. According to the J.D. Power 2021 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, the combination of steadily rising passenger volumes and shuttered coffee shops and eateries caused the decrease in satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction reached all-time highs in the survey when passenger volumes were curbed by the pandemic, explained Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. Lower passenger counts predictably eased congestion and made for a simpler airport experience, results which mirror similar findings in the J.D. Power survey of airline satisfaction earlier in the year.
However with the rebound in leisure travel throughout the spring and summer, the satisfaction numbers declined, an outcome that was anticipated.
The data shows changing expectations among travelers. Those passengers who were traveling early in the pandemic were satisfied to find any shop or restaurant open, but now they expect full service at the airport. Other factors negatively affecting scores were a labor shortage that translated into lower scores for food, beverage and retail, and major construction projects that jammed airport access and parking areas.
Among what J.D. Power calls “mega airports,” Miami International Airport ranks highest in passenger satisfaction with a score of 828 (on a 1,000-point scale). John F. Kennedy International in New York ranks second with a score of 817, and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International rounds out the top three with a score of 815.
Among large airports as classified by J.D. Power, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport ranks highest with a score of 844, while Tampa International Airport’s score of 843 puts it second, and Raleigh-Durham International Airport ranks third with a score of 841.