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Report: MSP International ranked best of major U.S., Canadian airports for air traveler satisfaction

Despite dropping 15 points from J.D. Power's 2021 survey, MSP moved two slots up the rankings, from last year's third-place rank.

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) is the best in the country for its size, according to a newly released nationwide customer satisfaction survey.

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Source: J.D. Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study
Chart: J.D. Power

Consumer research firm J.D. Power announced Wednesday the results of their North American Airport Satisfaction Study, notching a score of 800 (out of a 1,000 possible points), MSP ranked well above the segment average score of 769.

The survey was conducted from August 2021 to July 2022 using feedback from over 26,000 travelers in the United States and Canada who had departed from or arrived at at least one airport within 30 days of providing their feedback. MSP was grouped in the study’s “mega” category, which analyzed airports that see at least 33 million travelers annually.

Airports of each category were analyzed based upon six key categories, in order of importance: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.

Among mega airports, MSP was closely trailed by San Francisco International Airport, who scored 796 points, as well as Metro Airport in Detroit and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, both of which scored 791 points.

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Despite dropping 15 points from J.D. Power's 2021 survey, MSP moved two slots up the rankings, from last year's third-place rank.

Though in a separate category, nine airports in the large airport category — which considered hubs that handle between 10 and 32.9 million travelers annually — scored higher than MSP, with top-ranked Tampa International scoring 846. Of medium airports, serving 4.5 to 9.9 million travelers, Indianapolis International led the pack with a score of 842, joining ten others that scored above 800.

No other airports in Minnesota or the Dakotas handle enough passengers to be included in the study.

As pre-pandemic crowds returning, airports grapple with inflation

Beyond simply announcing which airports topped their study, J.D. Power’s analysis of feedback made other significant observations about the air travel industry.

“Air traveler satisfaction with North American airports reached an all-time high in 2021 when passenger volumes were still just a fraction of the historical norm,” the study’s conclusion reads. “Now, as global passenger volume ticks back up to 91% of pre-pandemic levels and labor shortages have caused a record number of flight cancellations, those sky-high satisfaction scores have once again fallen down to Earth.”

Overall satisfaction is down 25 points year-over-year on the group’s 1,000-point scale, as flight offerings have lessened despite terminals becoming more crowded.

A reduction in food and drink options also had an impact. Quantified, nearly 25% of respondents in J.D. Power’s survey indicated the price of food and beverages led them to avoid purchasing snacks at the airport, up from 20% in 2021 and 23% in 2019.

“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated — and it is likely to continue through 2023,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

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Meanwhile, 14% of travelers say parking was more expensive than they expected, up from 12% in 2021 and 11% in 2019.

“In some ways, this is a return to normal as larger crowds at airports tend to make travelers more frazzled,” Taylor said, “but in cases where parking lots are over capacity, gates are standing room only and restaurants and bars are not even open to offer some reprieve, it is clear that increased capacity in airports can’t come soon enough.”

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A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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