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Top airports? Phoenix, Dallas Love and Indianapolis are best, says J.D. Power

Sept. 23, 2020
7 min read
Arizona Scenics
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Which airports are the tops in North American for traveler satisfaction? Phoenix, Dallas Love and Indianapolis.

That’s according to J.D. Power, which found those airports topped the three categories in its 2020 North American Airport Satisfaction Survey.

Phoenix took the top spot in J.D. Power’s “Mega” airports category, finishing with a score of 805 on a 1,000-point scale that was enough to best runner-up Miami’s score of 801. Detroit, the 2019 winner, dropped to a sixth-place tie with Dallas Fort Worth at 791 points each.

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Dallas Love Field finished highest in the survey’s “Large” airports category with 844 points. The 2019 winner for the category — Portland, Oregon — dropped to sixth.

The top overall score of 866 went to Indianapolis, which repeated as No. 1 in J.D. Power’s “Medium” airports category.

There also was a repeat performance at the other end of the spectrum. Newark Liberty finished last among the 19 airports in J.D. Power’s “Mega” category” with 733 points while New York LaGuardia came in at the bottom of the 26 airports in the “Large” category. Hawaii’s Kahului Airport on the island of Maui finished last among the 19 airports in the “Medium” category.

LaGuardia’s score of 712 was by far the lowest in the survey, though there is hope for the close-in New York City airport. LaGuardia is in the midst of a dramatic terminal overhaul that’s quickly improving the travel experience there — albeit not in time to boost the airport's score for this year’s ratings.

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Overall, however, the J.D. Power’s 2020 traveler satisfaction rankings come amid a time of profound upheaval in the airline industry sparked by the ongoing the coronavirus pandemic.

“A year ago, the biggest challenge confronting North American airports was overcrowding. Today, they are comparatively empty,” J.D. Power said in a statement accompanying its ratings.

The number of airline passengers has plummeted since March. Traveler totals bottomed out at just 4% of normal in April, based on the number of screenings conducted by the Transportation Security Administration. The numbers started to rebound into July, but now have leveled off at only about 40% of what they were during the same time in 2019.

“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 very convenient experience for travelers right now,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. “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.”

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J.D. Power’s survey looked at satisfaction scores evaluating the three categories of airports across six factors. They were, in order of importance to the survey: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.

The full methodology for the survey can be found at J.D. Power’s website. The 2020 results are based on responses from 26,058 U.S. and Canadian travelers surveyed within 30 days of their travel during a window that began in August 2019 and ended in July 2020.

The full list of airport ratings are below, broken out by J.D. Power's categories of Mega, Large and Medium.

“Mega” airports

1. Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), 805 points (on a 1,000-point scale)

2. Miami (MIA), 801 points

3. Las Vegas McCarran (LAS), 797 points

4. Denver (DEN), 793 points

4. New York JFK, 793 points

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6. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), 791 points

6. Detroit (DTW), 791 points

8. Orlando (MCO), 789 points

9. Atlanta (ATL), 787 points

9. Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), 787 points

11. Charlotte (CLT), 780 points

Mega airports average: 780 points

12. Boston (BOS), 777 points

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13. Houston Bush Intercontinental (IAH), 775 points

14. San Francisco (SFO), 774 points

15. Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), 766 points

16. Los Angeles (LAX), 763 points

16. Toronto Pearson (YYZ), 763 points

18. Chicago O'Hare (ORD), 758 points

19. Newark Liberty (EWR), 733 points

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"Large" airports

1. Dallas Love Field (DAL), 844 points (on a 1,000-point scale)

2. John Wayne/Orange County (SNA), 837 points

2. Tampa (TPA), 837 points

4. Houston Hobby (HOU), 823 points

5. Portland, Oregon (PDX), 814 points

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6. Salt Lake City (SLC), 810 points

7. Sacramento (SMF), 809 points

8. Austin (AUS), 804 points

9. Raleigh/Durham (RDU), 799 points

10. Nashville (BNA), 795 points

11. New Orleans (MSY), 794 points

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11. Vancouver, Canada (YVR), 794 points

13. Calgary (YGC), 792 points

13. Washington Dulles (IAD), 792 points

15. Washington Reagan National (DCA), 790 points

16. Baltimore/Washington (BWI), 788 points

Large airports average: 786 points

17. Chicago Midway (MDW), 782 points

17. Montreal (YUL), 782 points

19. Kansas City (MCI), 781 points

19. St. Louis (STL), 781 points

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20. Oakland (OAK), 780 points

21. San Diego (SAN), 778 points

22. San Jose, California (SJC), 777 points

23. Fort Lauderdale (FLL), 762 points

24. Philadelphia (PHL), 751 points

25. Honolulu (HNL), 743 points

26. New York LaGuardia (LGA), 712 points

"Medium" airports

1. Indianapolis (IND), 866 points

2. West Palm Beach (PBI), 833 points

3. Fort Myers/Southwest Florida (RSW), 829 points

4. Albuquerque (ABQ), 826 points

4. Pittsburgh (PIT), 826 points

6. Columbus, Ohio (CMH), 820 points

7. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG), 819 points

8. Jacksonville, Florida (JAX), 817 points

9. Milwaukee (MKE), 815 points

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Medium airports average: 812 points

10 .Ontario, California (ONT), 811 points

10. San Antonio (SAT), 811 points

12. Buffalo (BUF), 803 points

13. Omaha (OMA), 798 points

14. Burbank (BUR), 797 points

15. Harford (BDL), 793 points

15. Ottawa, Canada (YOW), 793 points

17. Cleveland (CLE), 786 points

18. Edmonton, Canada (YYG), 778 points

19. Kahului/Maui, Hawaii (OGG), 745 points

* = Mega airports are those having 33 million or more passengers per year; large airports have 10 million to 32.9 million passengers per year; and medium airports have 4.5 million to 9.9 million passengers per year, according to J.D. Power.

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