Airport satisfaction gets slight bump, according to J.D. Power survey

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Travelers in U.S. airports were slightly happier with their on-the-ground experiences this year than they were in 2015, according to market-research firm J.D. Power.

That conclusion came from the company's 2016 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, released Thursday, which surveyed 36,465 North American travelers between January and October.

Overall traveler satisfaction with the airport experience was 731 this year on a 1,000-point scale, an improvement from 725 in 2015. J.D. Power determined satisfaction by examining attitudes about terminal facilities, airport accessibility, dining and retail options and experiences with check-in, security screening and baggage claim.

Michael Taylor, J.D. Power's director of airport practice, said that the improvements came despite the fact that many U.S. airports are handling more passengers than they were designed to accommodate.

However, they're overcoming that issue by affecting things they can impact. For example, Taylor said in a prepared statement about the study, airports are enhancing shopping and dining options and are using technology to improve check-in and security screening.

Notably, satisfaction with food, beverage and retail shopping at airports went up 10 points in this year's J.D. survey.

Leading the way in customer satisfaction among 31 large U.S. airports this year were Portland, Ore.; Tampa; and Las Vegas, in that order. Those facilities also occupied the top three spots last year.

Coming in last this year among large airports was New York LaGuardia, which is undergoing an $8 billion redevelopment. Travelers ranked Newark and Philadelphia second and third worst, respectively.

Among medium-size airports, customers were most happy with Indianapolis, followed by Buffalo Niagara, N.Y., and Fort Myers, Fla.

For the second straight year, Cleveland brought up the rear among the 33 medium-size airports surveyed.

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