Salt Lake City airport ranks above average in J.D. Power survey

Survey shows customer satisfaction with airports fell as passenger traffic increased.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday, September 23, 2022.

A rush of travelers and a spate of flight cancellations sent overall customer satisfaction at airports across North America into a tailspin this year, but Salt Lake City fared better than most.

The new $4.1 billion airport, which opened two years ago, was ranked sixth out of 27 major airports in a customer satisfaction survey conducted by consumer research giant JD Power.

Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead for the company, said the new airport stands out for its security checkpoints, new terminal facilities, baggage claim and sound design (think background music, clarity of overhead announcements and crowd management), improved its shopping facilities and culinary experience.

But if you’re waiting for a resounding confirmation, don’t hold your breath.

“You’re an above average airport,” said Taylor, “and rightly so.”

Airports handling between 10 million and 32.9 million passengers per year formed the “large” category. Tampa International Airport topped the list, followed by John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, and Dallas Love Field Airport.

Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and Raleigh-Durham International Airport also surpassed Salt Lake City in the rankings.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

The survey measured travelers’ overall satisfaction with terminal facilities, passenger drop-off and pick-up, baggage claim, security checkpoints, flight check-in and baggage handling, and the food, drink, and shopping experience.

Luckily for Salt Lake City, the survey didn’t include commutes inside the airport, such as the much-deplored and much-mocked walk from Concourse A to Concourse B in the current terminal — a hike officials expect will be reduced by more than 1,000 feet when a new tunnel opens in 2024.

JD Power noted that overall satisfaction with US airports has fallen since last year, as crowds have returned to near pre-pandemic levels, inflation has caused prices to skyrocket and the search for a parking space has increased burden became. Salt Lake City’s drop in satisfaction score matches the average drop in the large airport category.

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“The biggest problem this year,” Taylor said, “was the increase in passenger traffic.”

In a press release, Taylor said the combination of pent-up demand for flights, a nationwide labor shortage and rising prices have resulted in crowded airports and frustrated passengers.

“In a way, this is a return to normal, as larger crowds at airports tend to confuse travelers even more,” he said in the press release, “but in cases where car parks are congested, gates are standing room only and restaurants and.” Bars are We are not even ready to offer any respite, but it is clear that an increase in capacity at airports cannot come soon enough.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday, September 23, 2022.

Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Salt Lake City Department of Airports, said he was pleased with the ranking as work on the new airport isn’t even complete.

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“We’re still in the middle of a significant amount of construction,” he said, “which means things aren’t quite normal at the airport.”

The airport plans to open four new gates at the east end of Concourse A in May, with the rest of the concourse opening the following November. The next phase, he said, will reduce crowds and create more options for concessions.

JD Power also studied “mega-airports” that handle 33 million or more passengers annually and medium-sized airports that handle 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers annually.

Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport led the list of the largest airports in North America.

Indianapolis International Airport, Pittsburgh International Airport and Jacksonville International Airport led the middle category.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Travelers at Salt Lake City International Airport on Friday, September 23, 2022.

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