Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) has been through the wringer as of late, grappling with long lines, misplaced luggage and delayed flights during the summer months, and it doesn’t seem like its international reputation is improving.
According to a new study by U.S. market research firm J.D. Power, among 20 “mega airports,” Pearson ranked fifth-last in overall traveller satisfaction with 755 points on a 1,000-point scale.
Canada’s largest and busiest airport finished ahead of popular U.S. hubs, such as Boston Logan International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Newark Liberty International, according to the research, which was released Wednesday (Sept. 21).
The study on North American airports analyzed six factors, in order of importance: Terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check, and food, beverage and retail.
The spike in demand for travel as economies reopened from COVID-19 restrictions hit airports across the continent hard, study author Michael Taylor, head of travel intelligence at J.D. Power, told The Star.
On the bright side, Pearson suffered less of a drop compared to most facilities, Taylor said.
“[Pearson] had an incredible jump in passenger volume. And that has a direct impact on passenger satisfaction,” Taylor told the news outlet.
The low ranking marks another damaging headline for YYZ. In July, Pearson airport, more than once, claimed the top spot for flight delays globally, according to flight tracking company FlightAware.
Generally, as global passenger volume climbs back up to 91 per cent of pre-pandemic levels (according to IATA), and labour shortages have caused a record number of flight cancellations, customers satisfaction scores are bound to fall.
Overall satisfaction is down 25 points this year as travellers encounter fewer flights, more crowded terminals and limited food and beverage choices.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” stated Taylor.
“In some ways, this is a return to normal as larger crowds at airports tend to make travellers more frazzled, but in cases where parking lots are over capacity, gates are standing room only and restaurants and bars are not even open to offer some reprieve, it is clear that increased capacity in airports can’t come soon enough.”
Crowds + inflation
The study found that crowds have returned to pre-pandemic levels and that inflation is hitting airports hard.
Nearly one-fourth (24 per cent) of travellers say they did not make any food or beverage purchases at the airport because they were too expensive, according to the study. That’s up from 20 per cent in 2021 and 23 per cent in 2019.
Parking at airports is also an issue, leading to high levels of traveller dissatisfaction.
A shortage of space has caused satisfaction with surface parking lots to decline 45 points from 2021, the study says.
Meanwhile, 14 per cent of travellers say parking was more expensive than they expected, up from 12 per cent in 2021 and 11 per cent in 2019.
In the ranking, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport achieved the highest level of passenger satisfaction among mega airports with a score of 800.
San Francisco International Airport (796) came in second while Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (791) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (791) each rank third.
Of the mega airports, Newark Liberty International ranked at the very bottom with a score of 719.
Click here to view the full results of J.D. Power’s study.