DCA makes JD Power top 10; Dulles, BWI move up the list

WASHINGTON — From parking apps to pigs that waiting passengers can pet, U.S. airports are doing all they can to improve the airport experience for the flying public.

J.D. Power’s 2017 North America Airport Satisfaction study says overall customer satisfaction scores have reached an all-time high, at an average of 749 points out of 1,000, up 18 points from last year.

Improvements were driven primarily by increased satisfaction with security check, and gains in check-in and baggage check, food, beverage and retail satisfaction.

Reagan National Airport ranks No. 9 among large airports this year, unchanged from last year, with a score of 755. BWI Marshall Airport moves up to No. 11 this year, from No. 15 last year, with a score of 753.

Both BWI and DCA rank above the large airport average.

Dulles ranks No. 13 on this year’s list, up from No. 20 last year and just a notch below the large airport average.

Over the past three years, Dulles and Reagan National have added more than 120 new restaurants and retailers, many of them with local flavor.

Some airports are experimenting with rather unusual ways to keep waiting passengers happy and calm.

Phoenix Sky Harbor deploys a team of therapy dogs for passengers to pet while they wait to board. San Francisco International features a pet therapy pig that roams the terminal looking for pets and selfies.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport has more than 30 stress-relieving ponies on staff, with which travelers can interact.

Technology is playing a bigger role in the airport passenger experience. The Sacramento airport has a smartphone app that tells travelers where they can find a parking spot, and virtually every airport in the country has invested heavily in improving phone-charging stations and internet access in their terminals.

John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, ranks No. 1 on the large airport list for satisfaction. LaGuardia Airport in New York City ranks last.

Among what J.D. Power defines as “Mega Airports,” the busiest hubs in North America, Orlando International ranks No. 1 for satisfaction. Newark Liberty International Airport ranks last.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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