Between pilot shortages, strikes, and weather-related disruptions, it has been a rough year for air travel. But what does that mean for airports?
U.S. market research firm J.D. Power has just released its 2023 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, the 18th annual ranking of the best airports in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and one aspect of the study looked at customer service.
Which apparently is an issue in Canada. According to the report, both Toronto and Montreal airports ranked nearly last in passenger satisfaction this year.
The study ranks Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ) second from the bottom in the category for the largest airports that see more than 33 million passengers per year.
Whereas Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport (YUL) came in third from the bottom in the next category, with passenger traffic between 10 million and 32.9 million per year.
The rankings are based on six factors including terminal facilities, airport arrival/departure, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check and food/beverage/retail. Each airport is rated on a 1,000-point scale.
This year, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport ranks highest among Mega Airports with a score of 800; Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (796) comes in second; and Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas (787) ranks third.
The study also reveals something positive: overall passenger satisfaction has actually improved.
“It has not been an easy year for North American airports, but major capital improvements they’ve made over the last several years and new investments in getting food, beverage, and retail operations back up and running at full capacity have helped them manage the crush of passengers,” stated Michael Taylor, the managing director of Travel, Hospitality, and Retail at J.D. Power.
Meanwhile, airports in Western Canada ranked a little better in customer satisfaction, with Calgary and Vancouver airports both at spots 10 and 17.
The report, which surveyed 27,147 people travelling through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport between August 2022 and July 2023, suggests that crowds at airports will continue to be a challenge.
In a statement to the Canadian Press, Toronto Pearson noted the efforts it has taken to address passenger satisfaction.
“While we are disappointed with the results, the (Greater Toronto Airports Authority) has been working non-stop with airlines, agencies and other partners to improve and streamline the passenger experience since last year's restart,'' the airport said in a statement.
This is not the first time Toronto Pearson has earned poor performance marks.
Last year, Pearson ranked fifth-last in overall traveller satisfaction in J.D. Power’s same study.
Then, earlier that summer, in July of 2022, Toronto Pearson’s pain points made headlines for claiming the top spot for flight delays, according to flight tracking company FlightAware.
This past July, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which manages Pearson, insisted that its passenger experience was improving.
Speaking to media at the time, President and CEO of the GTAA Deborah Flint noted advancements that have been made to expedite check-in and boarding processes, reduce wait times and upgrade baggage systems.