Top airports? Detroit, Indianapolis and Portland are best, says J.D. Power

Sep 25, 2019

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North American travelers are the happiest with the airports in Detroit, Indianapolis and Portland, Oregon.

That’s according to J.D. Power, which found those airports topped the three categories in its 2019 North American Airport Satisfaction Survey.

Detroit took the top spot in J.D. Power’s “Mega” airports category, finishing with a score of 786 on a 1,000-point scale. But Indianapolis and Portland tied for the top overall score, their 833 points enough to earn the No. 1 sport in the survey’s “Large” and “Medium” airport categories, respectively.

At the other end of the spectrum are two New York City-area airports that frequently bring up the bottom in airport ratings: Newark Liberty and New York LaGuardia. Newark finished 19th out of the 19 airports including in the survey’s “Mega” category, its 695 points making it the lowest rated of all 62 airports in the survey. LaGuardia placed last in J.D. Power’s 27-airport “Large” category while Kahului on the Hawaiian island of Maui finished at the bottom of the “Medium” category.

The J.D. Power survey is one of several annual airport ratings, including one from TPG released this summer that used its own criteria.

Overall, travelers’ satisfaction scores with U.S. and Canadian airports ticked up year-over-year, rising one point from J.D. Power’s 2018 survey. But the group noted that rise came in spite of significant issues that weighed down on travelers’ opinions of airports. High on the list of concerns: construction.

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“Scaffolding and cranes are official welcome signs to several North American airports these days as record passenger volumes force major expansion efforts,” J.D. Power said in a statement, citing “road closures, confusing signage and delays that come with these projects.”

“With major terminal construction projects now underway in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and many other airports, it is becoming impossible for travelers not to experience some form of disruption,” Michael Taylor, J.D. Power’s Travel Intelligence Lead, said in a statement.

“While these projects are absolutely necessary to address surging demand, they are currently causing passenger delays and confusion,” Taylor added. “This translates into a rushed passenger experience and less money spent on food, beverage and retail – and it’s slowing the progress of the airport satisfaction we’ve seen in the past several years.”

As for the airports that topped survey’s three categories, J.D. Power said the “common bond … is relatively new facilities that accommodate increased passenger volume, incorporate localized food and beverage offerings and offer easy access.”

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: cost and fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, check-in, and reservations.

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The full methodology for the survey can be found at J.D. Power’s website, with the 2019 results are based on responses from 32,276 U.S. and Canadian travelers who flew during the past three months.

The full airport ratings are below.

“Mega” airports*

1. Detroit (DTW), 786 points (on a 1,000-point scale)

2. Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), 779 points

3-tie. Las Vegas (LAS), 777 points

3-tie. Orlando (MCO), 777 points

5-tie. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), 773 points

5-tie. Atlanta (ATL), 773 points

7. Phoenix (PHX), 770 points

8. Denver (DEN), 768 points

9. Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), 764 points

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10. Charlotte (CLT), 763 points

11. Miami (MIA), 759 points

12. New York JFK, 758 points

Mega airports average: 756 points

13. San Francisco (SFO), 750 points

14. Toronto Pearson (YYZ), 745 points

15. Seattle (SEA), 740 points

16. Boston (BOS), 739 points

17. Chicago O’Hare (ORD), 731 points

18. Los Angeles (LAX), 726 points

19. Newark Liberty (EWR), 695 points

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

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 “Large” airports

1. Portland, Oregon (PDX), 833 points

2. Dallas Love (DAL), 826 points

3. Tampa (TPA), 822 points

4. Orange County/John Wayne, California (SNA), 815 points

5. Raleigh/Durham (RDU), 804 points

6. Vancouver, Canada (YVR), 801 points

7. Sacramento, California (SMF), 800 points

8. Nashville (BNA), 795 points

9. Austin (AUS), 791 points

10. Houston Hobby (HOU), 785 points

11. Salt Lake City (SLC), 779 points

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

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13. San Diego (SAN), 774 points

14. Oakland (OAK), 769 points

15. Baltimore/Washington (BWI), 768 points

16. Kansas City, Missouri (MCI), 767 points

17. Calgary, Canada (YYC), 765 points

“Large” airports average: 765 points

18-tie. Chicago Midway (MDW), 756 points

18-tie. Washington Dulles (IAD), 756 points

20. Montreal (YUL), 750 points

21-tie. Fort Lauderdale (FLL), 746 points

21-tie. St. Louis (STL), 746 points

23-tie. New Orleans (MSY), 740 points

23-tie. Philadelphia (PHL), 740 points

25. Washington Reagan National (DCA), 733 points

26. Honoulu (HNL), 719 points

27. New York LaGuardia, 662 points

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

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“Medium” airports

1. Indianapolis (IND), 833 points

2. Jacksonville, Florida (JAX), 831 points

3. Buffalo (BUF), 829 points

4. Fort Myers, Florida (RSW), 823 points

5. West Palm Beach, Florida (PBI), 814 points

6. San Antonio (SAT), 813 points

7. Pittsburgh (PIT), 808 points

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8. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG), 807 points

“Medium” airport average: 803 points

9. Albuquerque, New Mexico (ABQ), 799 points

10. Milwaukee (MKE), 798 points

11. Columbus, Ohio (CMH), 792 points

12. Ottawa, Canada (YOW), 780 points

13. Edmonton, Canada (YEG), 779 points

14. Hartford, Connecticut (BDL), 776 points

15. Cleveland (CLE), 755 points

16. Kahului, Hawaii (OGG), 754 points

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

Featured image courtesy of Wayne County Airport Authority.

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