North America’s best airports are Miami and New Orleans, says J.D. Power

Sep 22, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Would you argue for Miami International as the best airport in North America? No? Then, how about New Orleans?

Road warriors who go to bat in defense of their favorite airport — or to bash their least favorite — will now have new fodder for their arguments.

That’s thanks to the latest from marketing research firm J.D. Power, which released its 2021 North American Airport Satisfaction Study on Wednesday. Miami and New Orleans each topped their respective categories for the best airports in U.S. and Canada.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free biweekly Aviation newsletter!

Miami took the top spot in J.D. Power’s “Mega” airports category, finishing with a score of 828 on a 1,000-point scale. That was enough to best runner-up New York-JFK (817 points) and third-place finisher Minneapolis-St. Paul (815). Phoenix, the 2020 winner, dropped to fifth place with 808 points.

Buoyed by a brand-new terminal that opened in late 2019, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International finished No. 1 in the survey’s “Large” airports category with 844 points. New Orleans’ score was just enough to squeak past No. 2 Tampa (843 points) and Raleigh-Durham (841). The 2020 winner for the category — Dallas Love Field — dropped to fourth.

At the other end of the spectrum, Philadelphia recorded the worst overall score – its 758 points ranked it last out of the 20 airports in the “Large” category. Chicago O’Hare finished last out of the 20 airports in the “Mega” category with 772 points.

Let the good times roll: With a jazzy fanfare, New Orleans’ new airport terminal is open for business

A look inside the new terminal at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on Oct. 24, 2019. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

J.D. Power typically rates airports in three categories, but it did not rank airports in the “Medium” category for 2021 because of “reduced passenger volumes” during the pandemic.

Overall, passenger satisfaction scores rose to a record high in J.D. Power’s 2021 survey, with airports averaging a score of 802 points. But that comes with something of an asterisk. The report, which surveyed U.S. and Canadian flyers who traveled between July 2020 and July 2021, found scores jumped during the first half of that window, “when passenger volumes were still just a fraction of the historical norm.”

Since January, however, satisfaction scores “steadily declined” as air travel rebounded and passenger volumes picked up.

“Ultimately, the data conveys changing expectations among travelers,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement accompanying the 2021 survey results. “Early in the pandemic, passengers were satisfied with any shop or restaurant being open, but they now expect full service at the airport.”

What’s coming next? How bad will the delta variant be for airlines this fall?

J.D. Power’s survey looked at satisfaction scores evaluating the two 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 2021 results are based on responses from 13,225 U.S. and Canadian travelers surveyed within 30 days of their travel during a window that began in August 2020 and ended in July 2021.

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

Mega airports

1. Miami (MIA), 828 points.

2. New York-JFK, 817 points.

3. Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), 815 points.

4. Orlando (MCO), 812 points.

5. Phoenix (PHX), 808 points.

6. Las Vegas (LAS), 806 points.

7. Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), 805 points.

8. Houston Intercontinental (IAH), 801 points.

9 (tie). Detroit (DTW), 798 points.

9 (tie). Atlanta (ATL), 798 points

Mega airports average: 798 points.

11 (tie). Charlotte (CLT), 796 points.

11 (tie). San Francisco (SFO), 796 points.

13 (tie). Denver (DEN), 793 points.

13 (tie). Fort Lauderdale (FLL), 793 points.

15 (tie). Los Angeles (LAX), 792 points.

15 (tie). Newark Liberty (EWR), 792 points.

17. Seattle (SEA), 789 points.

18. Boston (BOS), 784 points.

19. Toronto Pearson (YYZ), 780 points.

20. Chicago O’Hare (ORD), 772 points.

Call it a comeback? Airports are coming back: Here’s what’s happening now

Large airports

1. New Orleans (MSY), 844 points.

2. Tampa (TPA), 843 points.

3. Raleigh-Durham (RDU), 841 points.

4. Dallas Love (DAL), 829 points.

5. Salt Lake City (SLC), 826 points.

6. Nashville (BNA), 820 points.

7. Austin (AUS), 819 points.

8. San Diego (SAN), 814 points.

9. San Antonio (SAT), 813 points.

Large airport average: 805 points.

10. Washington National (DCA), 804 points.

11. Portland, Oregon (PDX), 803 points.

12 (tie). Sacramento (SMF), 802 points.

12 (tie). Washington Dulles (IAD), 802 points.

14. St. Louis (STL), 801 points.

15 (tie). Chicago Midway (MDW), 800 points.

15 (tie). Kansas City (MCI), 800 points.

17. Houston Hobby (HOU), 794 points.

18. Baltimore/Washington (BWI), 785 points.

19. New York LaGuardia (LGA), 781 points.

20. Philadelphia (PHL), 758 points.

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show all of the airports rated in the J.D. Power Study. One airport was inadvertently excluded from the list in an earlier draft.

Featured photo byaimintang/Getty Images.


Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.