J.D. Power survey finds satisfaction levels at all-time high at best U.S. airports

Orlando Airport J.D. Power Best Airports
Orlando International Airport
J.D. Power has released its North America Airport Satisfaction Study for 2017, which looked at terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security check, baggage claim, check-in/baggage check, and services like food, beverage, and retail. Airports were judged on overall satisfaction based on responses from nearly 35,000 people surveyed in North America, out of a 1,000-point scale. As with last year’s findings, airports continue to see an increase in passenger numbers.

Despite the horror stories of air travel we often see in the news, J.D. Power’s findings suggest otherwise; overall passenger satisfaction in the United States’ best airports is actually at an all-time high, up 18 points from 2016.

The surprising news is noteworthy considering many airports are now handling more flights and people than they were originally designed for (this is especially evident during busy travel seasons, bad weather, or unpredictable situations like the computer glitch that hindered Delta’s operations). But J.D. Power attributes the positive news to airport enhancements that are improving the passenger experience, as well as implementation of new tech and some conventional and unconventional practices.

“Capacity has become a huge challenge for North American airports, with many reporting 100 percent of available parking spots being filled and large airports, such as Orlando International, setting passenger volume records each month for more than three years straight,”said Michael Taylor, airport practice lead at J.D. Power, in a release. “Despite these difficulties, airports are responding with new technology and old-fashioned personal skills to win over harried travelers.”

“Airports are responding with new technology and old-fashioned personal skills to win over harried travelers.”

According to the study, improvements have come from fewer staffing issues at security than last year; better baggage handling and check-in, thanks to self-service kiosks that speed up the process; and upgraded airport concessions.

And technology is playing a role: The study cites Sacramento International Airport’s parking location app as one example, along with Internet access and charging stations. Some airports are using what J.D. Power terms, “high-touch traveler outreach initiatives,” like the use of therapy animals passengers can interact with.

But like last year’s study, J.D. Power notes that major construction projects will continue to affect the ratings of airports, despite best efforts to minimize traveler disruption.

“The trifecta of a steadily improving economy, record passenger volume, and billion-dollar renovation projects unfolding in airports across the country has created a challenging environment for customer satisfaction,” Taylor added. “The fact that many airports are overcoming those challenges is incredibly instructive for the industry as it remodels and improves airport infrastructure.”

So, which airports ranked the best in overall satisfaction for 2017? The study this year divided airports into three categories, and there have been some rearrangements. Orlando, Florida has been named the top “mega U.S. airport,” followed by Detroit and Las Vegas. In the “large U.S. airport” category, John Wayne in California took the top spot, beating last year’s winner, Portland International in Oregon (Portland drops to fifth). The Sacramento, California airport was named the “best medium airport,” pushing last year’s winner, Indianapolis, Indiana, to second place.

Here are J.D. Power’s top-ranked airports in the United States for 2017.

Top 10 Mega U.S. Airports

  • Orlando International Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
  • McCarran International Airport
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Denver International Airport
  • Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
  • San Francisco International Airport
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Top 10 Large U.S. Airports

  • John Wayne Airport
  • Tampa International Airport
  • Dallas Love Field
  • Nashville International Airport
  • Portland International Airport
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
  • William P. Hobby Airport
  • San Diego International Airport
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
  • Salt Lake City International Airport

Top 10 Medium U.S. Airports

  • Sacramento International Airport
  • Indianapolis International Airport
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
  • Jacksonville International Airport
  • Palm Beach International Airport
  • Southwest Florida International Airport
  • Pittsburgh International Airport
  • Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport
  • Ontario International Airport

Tech that help take the stress out of flying

Of course, no airport can fully guarantee a great experience. Delays, missed connections, cancellations, crowded terminals, and bad food will make even the best airport a miserable place. Should you find yourself in these situations, here is what to do if your flight is delayed or canceled, and here are a few tips and gear that can help reduce your stress.

Smart Home

Alexa toilets, robot ovens, and all the other smart home tech coming to CES

CES 2019 is finally here. So what smart home trends can we expect to see this year? Regardless of what you seek, chances are you'll find it on the floor at CES 2019. Here's what we're expecting to see.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Cars

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is ready to strike with over 700 hp

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 revives one of the greatest names in American muscle cars, and gives Ford some ammunition in the horsepower war with Chevy and Dodge. Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the GT500 boasts over 700 hp.
Gaming

Can gamers build a society? We’ll find out in Amazon’s ‘New World’

Amazon is building a massively multiplayer game with an entirely unique world and setting. We interviewed three of the game developer’s about why Amazon is taking a risk on ‘New World’ and how the company’s cloud tech makes it…
Emerging Tech

Today, hacks are annoying. In future smart cities, they could kill

Corporate security breaches are becoming so common that people now accept them as part of a digital future. But for smart cities, system hacks could prove far dangerous for citizens.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live – CES 2019 – Day 2

On today's episode: While we are for sure going to run down all the hottest and most innovative tech announcements of CES 2019, we're also hosting some amazing guests and panels. From the latest VTOL taxi from Bell Helicopters and the…
Gaming

Ride through the sky and get fit on the fly with the NordicTrack VR Bike

During CES 2019, we tried the NordicTrack Virtual Reality Bike. Combining fitness and gaming, the bike is one of the most interesting approaches to VR traversal we’ve seen. 
Mobile

The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more

We can all use some help with our health and CES 2019 was packed with intriguing devices designed to combat pain and stress, help you monitor blood pressure, reduce tinnitus, and care for the sick or elderly.
Gaming

These shoes let me stroll through ‘Skyrim,’ and I desperately want to go back

After being funded in just two hours on Kickstarter back in October 2018, Cybershoes has earned itself a place among the coolest VR walking and running tech. At CES 2019, we got to try them out and they live up to the hype.
Smart Home

Treat your furry friend with the best pet tech at CES 2019

We all want the best for our feline companions and furry best friends, so we're seeing more and more innovative gadgets designed for pets. CES 2019 was a veritable treasure trove of pet tech and these devices are our picks.
Computing

It took three years, but OLED laptops are having another moment at CES

To our surprise, OLED laptops made a strong showing at CES 2019. With options in the works from most of the major PC manufacturers, it seems OLED is making its comeback.
Smart Home

Booth babes, banned sex toys, and other mishaps at CES 2019

From female sex toys bans, to fake Tesla/robot collision stories, there was some weird stuff going on at CES 2019 this year. Here are some of the biggest mishaps and flubs at the world's biggest tech show.