Plot Twist: Traveler Satisfaction With North American Airports Grew This Year

That is despite many of the issues the industry is still grappling with

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was a clear standout
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was a clear standout.

Almost exactly a year ago to the day, the J.D. Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study was released. The findings? Airports were extremely crowded and passengers were increasingly frustrated — not a huge surprise. We reported at the time that “overall satisfaction was down 25 points (on a 1,000-point scale) due to fewer flights, more crowded terminals and sparse/expensive food and beverage offerings.”

That said, and perhaps surprisingly, things are apparently starting to look up for North American airports in 2023. Per the new 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, which was released on Wednesday, overall satisfaction actually improved by three points to 780 (again, on a 1,000-point scale), despite a number of challenges, staffing shortages and high passenger volumes chief among them.

For the uninitiated, the study, now in its 18th year, culls data from surveys from U.S. or Canadian residents who score airports — “mega” (33 million or more passengers a year), “large” (10 to 32.9 million passengers a year) and “medium” (4.5 to 9.9 million passengers a year) — based on categories such as terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check and food/beverage/retail. As Travel Pulse notes, the study shows that the increase this year can be chalked up to improvements in terminal facilities, food and beverage and retail service, and baggage claim.

Air Traffic Controller Shortage Could Impact the Travel Industry for Years
A dire situation will probably get worse before it improves

“It has not been an easy year for North American airports, but major capital improvements they’ve made over the last several years and new investments in getting food, beverage and retail operations back up and running at full capacity have helped them manage the crush of passengers,” Michael Taylor, managing director of travel, hospitality and retail at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “While airports are doing a good job coping with the current issues, there is still more they could do to improve passenger experience while also improving their own bottom lines. Happy passengers spend a lot more money at the airport, so ongoing efforts to spread passenger volumes throughout the day and deliver superior service at all customer touchpoints will be critical.”

Among the winners were Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (800) in the “mega” category, Tampa International Airport (832) in the “large” category and Indianapolis International Airport (843) in the medium category. It’s the second straight year the latter two have won their respective categories. Last year, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport was the top “mega” airport in customer satisfaction, and while it still ranks high on the list, it fell four points to a 796 this year.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.