Planes are parked at gates at Newark Liberty International Airport...

Planes are parked at gates at Newark Liberty International Airport in 2020. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

One of the region’s three main airports was ranked worst in North America for customer satisfaction, while another climbed up the annual rankings, according to a recent J.D. Power study.

The survey ranked airports based on overall satisfaction in six key areas: terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claims, security check, check-in/baggage check and concessions.

Newark Liberty International Airport scored 719, coming in last among 20 mega airports, or facilities that handle over 33 million passengers annually.

This wasn’t a total surprise as Newark also came in last place in 2019 and 2020. Last year, it managed to move up to 16th place.

Newark, along with LaGuardia and Kennedy airports are still undergoing a nearly $30 billion transformation.

“It’s been in need of some enhancement for many years, just like LaGuardia has been and is now undergoing construction and it makes it terrible to navigate,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

“Construction is the biggest negative impact on people’s experience at the airport.”

Out of the mega airports, Kennedy Airport tied in third place with Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, cinching a score of 791. This reflects a drop from its second-place status in 2021 but a bump from 2020, when it tied for fourth place, and from 2019, when it came in at number 12.

“This is the success story of the three airports. . . . [Kennedy has] had a strong couple of years. Part of it has to do with some of the shift in passenger volumes from older terminals into newer terminals like terminals 4 and 8. That’s helped their scores and they’ve added significant amounts of food and beverage services, they do very well in that category,” Taylor said. The average score in the mega ranking this year was 769.

Out of 27 large airports that handle 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year, LaGuardia scored a 761, a mere four spots from the bottom but an improvement from the last three years.  The Queens airport, which last year was ranked in second to last place, and in 2020 and 2019 landed last, has been undergoing an overhaul that is substantially complete.

This year’s average score for large airports was 784.

Overall satisfaction at airports in the United States and Canada dropped 25 points out of a 1,000-point scale from 2021, according to the study. The average score for airports in the study was 777.  

Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport ranks highest in passenger satisfaction among the mega airports with a score of 800 and Tampa International Airport ranks highest among large airports with a score of 846.

The results come amid increased passenger volumes that continue to reach near pre-pandemic levels and a summer of flight scheduling snafus.

Passengers are finding higher food and beverage costs, parking shortages and crowded terminals, the study finds.

Over 26,000 U.S. or Canadian travelers who passed through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport were included in the 17th annual survey, conducted from August 2021 through July 2022.

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