Miami the top-rated large airport in J.D. Power study

Miami International Airport ranked the highest in customer satisfaction among major North American airports in J.D. Power’s 2021 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. 

Miami took first place with a score of 828 on a 1,000-point scale. JFK (817) was second and Minneapolis-St. Paul (815) was third.

The lowest scoring major airport was Chicago O’Hare (772), with Toronto Pearson (780) and Boston (784) the second and third worst, respectively. 

New Orleans topped the survey among second-tier airports in North America with a score of 844. It was closely followed by Tampa (843) and Raleigh-Durham (841). 

Trailing the pack in that size category was Philadelphia (758), with New York LaGuardia (781) scoring second lowest and Baltimore (785) third lowest. 

J.D. Power travel intelligence leader Michael Taylor said that Miami would have been at the bottom of the list 18 years ago. But since then, Miami’s airport has invested in terminals. The airport also offers distinctive dining options that reflect the character of South Florida.

“A key is to have food that reflects the local area,” he said.

New Orleans, said Taylor, also benefits from strong local food offerings. But the airport’s ranking soared in the J.D. Power survey from 10th to first since moving into a new terminal in late 2019. 

Empty airports, high scores

In the 16 years that J.D. Power has studied airports, customer satisfaction with the airport experience reached its highest level this year. 

Over the 12-month study that ended in July 2021, customer satisfaction rose to 802 on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale. That’s up from a score of 784 from July 2020. 

However, satisfaction levels dropped precipitously during the second half of the study period as airline passenger counts rose and as staffing shortages led to long lines at airport restaurants and shops. 

“The easiest way to increase satisfaction is to have an empty terminal, and that’s not necessarily a recipe for success,” said Taylor.

The score for the first half of this year was 816 before dropping off to 794 for the second six months, Taylor said. 

The study measures satisfaction with the airport experience by examining six factors: terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check, and food/beverage and retail. 

Taylor said that scores took an especially sharp drop during the second half of the study period in the beverage and retail category, falling 36 points, from 791 to 755. 

“People are having 45-minute waits for coffee, almost no matter where they go,” he said. 

This year’s study was based on 13,225 surveys with U.S. and Canadian travelers. 

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