Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport climbed into the top 10 in a survey of passenger satisfaction at the nation’s largest airports, market researcher J.D. Power said Thursday.
The airport tied for sixth with Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina on the list of so-called mega airports, those with at least 32 million passengers a year. Both airports had a score of 762 on a 1,000-point scale. Last year, MSP ranked 17th with a score of 734.
Orlando International Airport led the list with a score of 778, followed by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport with 767.
“It’s always gratifying to get positive feedback from the people who use Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,” Patrick Hogan, the airport spokesman, said.
The airport has added dozens of new shops and restaurants in the past couple of years, and it remodeled the check-in area in Terminal 1 to consolidate the security checkpoints. Construction of the first hotel on the airport grounds is underway and further remodeling of the ticketing and baggage claim is planned.
J.D. Power surveyed nearly 35,000 passengers in dozens of airports during the first eight months of the year, asking questions about terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security areas, baggage claim, check-in areas, and food, beverage and retail offerings.
Smaller airports tend to score higher on the J.D. Power survey. The airport in Sacramento, Calif., had the highest score, 810, and is categorized by J.D. Power as a medium airport, or one with 3 million to 9.9 million passengers a year.
The biggest, or mega, airports are a “different beast,” said Michael Taylor, who led the study for J.D. Power.
“They are growing in passenger volume faster than the other categories,” Taylor said via e-mail. “They have more real estate, a wider variety of food, beverage and retail and have more connecting passengers as well. Connectors experience the airport in a much different way.”
Broadly, J.D. Power found that passengers are growing happier with U.S. airports. The overall satisfaction score of 749 was the highest ever and up 18 points from last year. For mega airports like MSP, the average satisfaction score was 746.
The survey found that passengers frequently were dissatisfied with the first thing they have to do when they reach an airport — park a car. Taylor said demand for air travel is so high that airports are increasingly filling their parking lots.
Orlando International has set passenger records for three consecutive years. Some airports have created smartphone apps that show drivers where to park. MSP sends messages via Twitter when its lots fill up.
Airports in the New York area tended to rate the lowest on the J.D. Power survey. Newark Liberty International was ranked at the bottom of the mega-airport category with 686 points. Only one airport scored lower, New York’s LaGuardia, which was in the large airport category and had 654 points.