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Sunday, 21 February, 2010 0:05 AM

Detroit Metro Airport ranked highest in overall passenger satisfaction, according to J.D. Power study

Although Technology May Help Improve the Airport Experience, the Basics Have the Greatest Impact on Passenger Satisfaction


A look at the exterior of the new North Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. -- Although technology has revolutionized air travel during the past decade, passenger satisfaction with airports continues to lag behind that of other aspects of the travel industry, largely because passenger expectations of basic needs-such as prompt baggage delivery, airport comfort and ease of navigating the airport-are not being met consistently, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Airport Satisfaction StudySM released today.

The study measures overall airport satisfaction in three segments: large (30 million or more passengers per year), medium (10 million to 30 million passengers per year) and small (fewer than 10 million passengers per year). Six factors-assessed through 27 specific attributes-are examined to determine overall customer satisfaction: airport accessibility; baggage claim; check-in/baggage check process; terminal facilities; security check; and food and retail services.

Overall passenger satisfaction with the airport experience averages 690 on a 1,000-point scale in 2010, which is an improvement from 675 in 2008. However, satisfaction with airports in 2010 is considerably lower than satisfaction with hotels (756, on average) and rental cars (733, on average).

Technology has helped drive efficiencies for airports and increase convenience for travelers-for example, through wireless Internet access, parking lot management systems and online check-in. However, the study finds that the areas with greatest impact on overall passenger satisfaction are speed of baggage delivery; ease of check-in and baggage check; comfort in airport terminals; and the amount of time required for security check. For many passengers, basic needs such as seating comfort and ease of moving through the airport are not consistently being met.

"As much as Internet access may be a fun diversion or enable productivity for passengers, getting passengers in and out of the airport easily and efficiently is of utmost importance," said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Airports can best facilitate passenger progress and improve satisfaction by focusing on key elements such as the clarity of airport signage, facilitating quick and accurate delivery of baggage and partnering with the TSA to reduce security check wait times."

The study finds that providing high levels of airport passenger satisfaction has a strong positive impact on retail spending. Among passengers who are "disappointed" with their airport experience (providing ratings of one to five on a 10-point scale), airport retail spending averages $14.12. However, passengers who are "delighted" with their airport experience (providing ratings of 10 on a 10-point scale), spend an average of $20.55 on airport retail purchases-45 percent more than do "disappointed" passengers. Only a small percentage of passengers-9 percent-are "delighted" with their airport experience.

At the segment level, passenger satisfaction with large airports has decreased in recent years. During the same time frame, satisfaction with medium airports has remained flat while satisfaction with small airports has increased.

Large Airports

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW) ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction among large airports and performs particularly well in the terminal facilities and baggage claim factors. Denver International (DEN) and Minneapolis/St. Paul International (MSP), in a tie, closely follow DTW in the segment rankings. DEN performs particularly well in the airport accessibility factor.

Medium Airports

Kansas City International (MCI) ranks highest among medium airports, and performs particularly well in three of the six factors: airport accessibility, check-in/baggage check and security check. Following MCI in the segment rankings are Portland International (PDX) and Tampa International (TPA). PDX performs particularly well in the food and retail services factor while TPA performs particularly well in the terminal facilities and baggage claim factors.

Small Airports

Among small airports, Indianapolis International Airport (IND) ranks highest and performs particularly well in the check-in/baggage check, security check and terminal facilities factors. Following IND in the segment rankings are Fort Myers/Southwest Florida International (RSW) and Tucson International (TUS).

The 2010 North America Airport Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 12,100 passengers who took a round-trip flight between January and December 2009. Passengers evaluated their departing and arriving airports, and the study includes a total of more than 24, 200 evaluations. The study was fielded between January and December 2009. For more information, view airport ratings or read an article on

Source: J.D. Power and Associates 2009 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study and J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Rental Car Satisfaction Study


Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Lester Robinson Comments on the Results of the JD Power & Associates 2010 Airport Satisfaction Study

“We are pleased and honored to be acknowledged in this way by JD Power and Associates and the customers who travel through Detroit Metropolitan Airport,” said Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Lester Robinson. “We continually track customer satisfaction and focus our resources on those areas which are important to passengers.”

“Even on snowy days, two clean, pleasant and efficient new terminals with fun shops and restaurants, and a powerful airfield help to make Detroit a reliable connecting hub and provide a welcoming environment for business or leisure travel.”

“Much of the credit goes to our airline partners who have committed themselves to improve on-time performance and luggage handling as well as our Travelers Aid volunteers who work so hard on the front lines every day to help make the travel experience in Detroit as pleasant as possible. These results also indicate that the TSA here in Detroit is doing a good job keeping flights safe while treating our customers with respect and dignity. This award encourages us to work even harder to improve customer satisfaction and to exceed passenger expectations in the future.”

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who appointed four of the Airport Authority's seven Board Members, was pleased with this news.

"Detroit Metropolitan Airport provides a tremendous boost to our local economy in terms of jobs and demand for goods and services," said Executive Ficano. "It is important that this facility continue to meet and exceed customer expectations and play to its role as a powerful anchor in the Detroit Region Aerotropolis."

Source: Wayne County Airport Authority

Souce: J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Airport Satisfaction Study


Detroit Metro Airport's North Terminal Named 'Build Michigan' Winner


A Southwest Airlines plane approaches gate D23 at the North Terminal.

DETROIT -- The Associated General Contractors of Michigan has bestowed its highest honor, a Build Michigan Award, on the North Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Members of the project team -- the Wayne County Airport Authority, construction managers Walbridge and Barton Malow, and architects Gensler and Ghafari -- were recognized at the conferral ceremony, January 29, at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, Detroit.

"It's great to see the North Terminal receive the recognition it deserves," said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. "It's an important element in anchoring the Detroit Region Aerotropolis to create the jobs and prosperity of the future."

One of the first airport complexes fully designed and constructed post-9/11, the 26-gate, 850,000 square foot North Terminal can accommodate 14 million passengers annually. The linear footprint creates a faster, more efficient path for taxiing aircraft, which conserves fuel, reduces environmental emissions, and saves time for travelers. Natural daylight, bright color, and dramatic lighting enhance the passenger experience and impression of the facility. Built within a budget of $431 million, the North Terminal establishes a new benchmark for value-conscious airport planners.

The work included a multi-airline terminal, Federal Inspection Services (FIS) for international flights, baggage handling, hydrant fueling system, and apron replacement. Additionally, the team created an enclosed skywalk between the terminal and a parking garage, and a ground transportation center for commercial traffic, to leave the curbside for passenger vehicles.

"We extend our thanks to the local contracting community, which understood the significance of this work, and was committed to excellence throughout," said Barton Malow Project Executive Doug Maibach.

"Walbridge was pleased to contribute our innovations to this project," added Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta, Jr. "The North Terminal team not only achieved ambitious goals in costs, logistics, and deadlines, it has enhanced the role of Detroit Metro Airport as a world-class gateway to the Metro Detroit Region."

Wayne County Airport Authority CEO Lester Robinson summed up the meaning of the Build Michigan honor and the importance of the new facility. "The North Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport is a shining example of how to achieve more with less," he said. "Working with a very modest budget and a tight set of design limitations, the project team created a facility that satisfied the bookkeepers, provides an ultra-efficient operating environment for airlines, incorporates a number of eco-friendly features, and -- most importantly -- delights Detroit travelers and visitors to our region. You can't ask for much more than that!"

About Detroit Metropolitan Airport and the Wayne County Airport Authority

Welcoming more than 30 million passengers this year -- more than three times the population of the State of Michigan -- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) is the state's largest airport and one of the world's busiest air transportation hubs with more than 1,200 daily flights to more than 160 destinations around the globe. DTW is also the second-largest hub and primary gateway for Delta -- the world's largest airline. Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA) was established in 2002 by an act of the Michigan State Legislature as an independent agency responsible for operation of Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Willow Run Airport.

Source: Walbridge


Related Story: New plaque unveiled at Detroit Metro Airport honors past heroes




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