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Everyone hates the airport again

Even new conveniences like pre-scheduled TSA check-in or self-tagging baggage kiosks can’t replace the largest problem plaguing airports: overcrowding.

Why it matters: It’s 2019 yet again. Following a brief, blissful period through the pandemic when passengers could breeze through security checkpoints, baggage claims and restaurants, airports are again a way to obtain frustration, in accordance with J.D. Power’s latest annual Airport Satisfaction Study.

  • And the misery will probably continue into next year, says Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

Driving the news headlines: Overall client satisfaction with UNITED STATES airports fell 25 points, for a score of 777 out of just one 1,000 this season, as passenger volume returned nearly on track, J.D. Power found.

Details: The Airport Satisfaction Study talks about six factors: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; security check; check-in/baggage check; baggage claim; and food, beverage and retail. A few of this year’s key findings include:

  • Crowds are back again to pre-pandemic levels: 58% of airport travelers described the terminal as severely or moderately crowded, nearly consistent with 2019.
  • Inflation hit the airport: 24% of travelers said they didn’t purchase any food or beverages at the airport because of high costs. That’s up from 20% in 2021 and 23% in 2019.
  • There’s nowhere to park: A shortage of spaces caused a 45-point drop in satisfaction from 2021. Meanwhile, 14% of travelers said parking was more costly than they expected, up from 12% in 2021 and 11% in 2019.

How they ranked: Minneapolis-Saint Paul AIRPORT TERMINAL had the best passenger satisfaction score among major airports, at 800.

  • SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA AIRPORT TERMINAL was second, while Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport tied with New York’s John F. Kennedy AIRPORT TERMINAL for third.
  • Newark Liberty AIRPORT TERMINAL, which includes been plagued with delays in the last year, ranked last and well below other major airports.

The intrigue: Construction includes a significant influence on airport satisfaction.

  • New York’s LaGuardia, which President Biden once maligned as a “UNDER-DEVELOPED” airport, saw a substantial bump almost 100 points after opening a gleaming new terminal.

What they’re saying: “The mix of pent-up demand for flights, the nationwide labor shortage, and steadily rising prices on from jet fuel to a bottle of water has generated a scenario where airports are really crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated,” Taylor said.

  • “In a few ways, it is a go back to normal as larger crowds at airports makes travelers more frazzled. However in cases where parking lots are over capacity, gates are standing room only, and restaurants and bars aren’t even available to offer some reprieve, it really is clear that increased capacity in airports can’t come quickly enough.”

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