Airports in Phoenix, Dallas & Indianapolis at top of J.D. Power list

Airline passenger numbers are way down. Many airports still feeling sort of empty, with many shops and restaurants closed or operating on reduced schedules. And buying a plane ticket right now comes with a lot of “what ifs” and few perks.

So, it is an interesting time to a look at the findings of J.D. Power’s 2020 North American Airport Satisfaction Study.

First, the “winners”

The survey put airports up against each other in three categories: “mega” airports with 33 million or more passengers per year; large airports with 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year; and medium airports with 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year.

The airports are scored on a 1,000 point scale that takes into account passenger satisfaction with factors that include terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail, in order of importance.

Mega airports: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport ranks highest with a score of 805. Miami International Airport (801) ranks second and McCarran International Airport (797) ranks third.

Large airports: Dallas Love Field ranks highest with a score of 844. John Wayne Airport, Orange County (837) and Tampa International Airport (837) rank second, in a tie.

Medium airports: Indianapolis International Airport ranks highest with a score of 866. Palm Beach International Airport (833) ranks second and Southwest Florida International Airport (829) ranks third.

What influences this year’s rankings?

As with everything else right now, the coronavirus pandemic has put a twist into this year’s airport satisfaction rankings.  

The overall customer satisfaction score for North American airports is up this year, to a record-high 784, which is 22 points up from 2019.

Good news, right? Sort of.

“Compared to the pre-COVID-19 environment when most airports were running significantly over capacity, the lack of crowds and long lines is actually creating a convenient experience for travelers right now,” says Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, in the study notes.

 “Obviously, this lower passenger volume is not sustainable for most airports. Airport managers are doing all they can to provide a safe and clean environment to facilitate a rebound in travel,” he adds.

Here are top five airports in each category. You can see the full rankings here.

Mega Airports

  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (805)
  2. Miami International Airport (801)
  3. McCarran International Airport (797)
  4. Denver International Airport (793)
  5. John F. Kennedy International Airport (793)

Large Airports

  1. Dallas Love Field (844)
  2. John Wayne Airport, Orange County (837)
  3. Tampa International Airport (837)
  4. William P. Hobby Airport (823)
  5. Portland International Airport (814)

Medium Airports

  1. Indianapolis International Airport (866)
  2. Palm Beach International Airport (833)
  3. Southwest Florida International Airport (829)
  4. Albuquerque International Sunport (826)
  5. Pittsburgh International Airport (826)

What about the airports at the bottom of each list?

In the mega category, Newark Liberty International Airport was at the bottom of the list, with a score of 733, just below Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which had a score of 758.

Among large airports, New York’s LaGuardia Airport (in the middle of a much-heralded make-over) ranked lowest, with a score of 712.

And for medium airports, Hawaii’s Kahului Airport was at the bottom of the list, with a 745 score.

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