Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport topped a customer satisfaction survey a year ago, the first time it had received the accolade among North American airports.
But it didn't retain the spot in this year's rankings.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport was rated highest in passenger satisfaction among mega airports with a score of 800. MSP ranked second (796) and Harry Reid International Airport near Las Vegas ranked third (787), according to the J.D. Power 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, released Wednesday.
"[MSP] just barely lost out to DTW this year," said Mike Taylor, managing director of travel, hospitality and retail at J.D. Power.
The study measured overall traveler satisfaction with mega, large and medium North American airports on a 1,000-point scale by examining six factors. In order of importance, they are: terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check and food, beverage and retail.
MSP still achieved second or third in those categories, Taylor said. But the Detroit airport re-strategized food, beverage and retail, boosting satisfaction in this year's study, he said.
"On top of winning the highest J.D. Power ranking in 2022, MSP is the only mega category airport to earn a customer satisfaction ranking in the top three for three years running," said Brian Ryks, chief executive of the Metropolitan Airports Commission. "This is a testament to the thousands of front-line MSP Airport workers and volunteers who deliver exceptional customer service along with the MAC's commitment to a passenger experience that features modern terminal facilities, efficient passenger processes and exceptional food, beverage and retail offerings."
Overall customer satisfaction with North American airports increased slightly to 780 this year, despite record passenger volume, crowded terminals and a barrage of delays and cancelations. Top-performing airports in the study all saw substantial gains in terminal facilities, baggage claim and food, beverage and retail service.
Mega airports are defined as those with 33 million or more passengers per year; large airports with 10 to 32.9 million passengers per year and medium airports with 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year.
Tampa International Airport ranked highest among large airports for a second consecutive year. John Wayne Airport, Orange County ranked second with Salt Lake City International Airport following.
Indianapolis International Airport ranked first among medium airports for a second-consecutive year, then comes Southwest Florida International Airport and Ontario International Airport.
Now in its 18th year, the study uses 27,147 completed surveys from U.S. or Canadian residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport in the past 30 days and covers both departure and arrival experiences, including connecting airports. Travelers evaluated either a departing or arriving airport from their round-trip experience.
Other report highlights:
Crowding to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future: More than half (60%) of travelers said they experienced severe or moderate crowding within the terminal, a slight increase from last year.
Satisfied travelers spend more money at the airport: Passengers classified as "delighted," meaning they rate their airport experience as 10 out of 10, spent an average of $44 in the terminal, while those classified as disappointed (1-5 out of 10) spend just $29. This year, airport passengers spent an average of $3.47 more than last year in the terminal.
Many top-performing airports recently completed major projects. Nowhere is the positive effect of capital improvement clearer than in New York's LaGuardia Airport, which has climbed from dead-last in passenger satisfaction in 2019 to average in the large airport segment this year.