A Better Flight Plan

Industry Insights

Customer Satisfaction Continues to Rise as Construction Booms

U.S. airlines fly a record 2.4 million passengers and more than 58,000 tons of cargo every day, and U.S. passenger airlines serve over 800 airports in 80 countries. As Americans and foreign visitors are filtering in and out of the nation’s airports, they’re seeing and experiencing the improvements, and it shows: the overall customer satisfaction score for North American airports rose to 762 following several years of improvement according to J.D. Power’s North America Airport Satisfaction study.

Improved infrastructure makes a difference for travelers. Among the top-performing airports cited by J.D. Power are Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Portland International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport. These airports have one major feature in common: recent infrastructure improvements that “accommodate increased passenger volume, incorporate localized food and beverage offerings and offer easy access.” The study highlights the fact that airports that are equipped with facilities to better serve passengers see a comparable increase in satisfaction scores.

This recent increase follows the steady rise of airline satisfaction, as reported in J.D. Power’s North America Airline Satisfaction Study earlier this year, which found an 11-point jump in satisfaction. “New technology investments have dramatically improved the reservation and check-in process. Fleets are newer and travelers generally feel that they are getting great value for their money,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “These improvements have been most profound in the traditional carrier segment, where customer satisfaction has climbed considerably,” he continued.

Today, airports have more tools and resources to fund ongoing construction and deliver infrastructure improvements to everyday users than ever before. Construction projects are booming across the country, including new, expanded or modernized terminal facilities in Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando and Washington, D.C., among others. These projects are helping accommodate passenger growth and increasing infrastructure needs.

Even amid constant improvements, airports are reporting record revenue as more and more travelers take to the sky. In 2018, U.S. airports generated a record $32 billion in revenues—including a record $3.5 billion from Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) collections. Overall, the revenue has grown 50 percent on a per-passenger basis since 2000 to outpace inflation. Additionally, the Airport and Airway Trust fund, which funds the Airport Improvement Program, holds an uncommitted balance of $7 billion. The record-setting revenue has provided unprecedented opportunities for airport development across the United States and the results speak for themselves: customers have better experiences and are happier with airport infrastructure improvements.

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