Most and least aggravating airports, according to J.D. Powers

Best and least aggravating airportsI recently caught an international flight out of Detroit, but only after we were loaded in a seedy parking shuttle and driven to what appeared to be an old shed serving as a temporary terminal. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Detroit-Wayne County airport was rated number one among large airports in customer satisfaction in a new survey by J.D. Powers.

Following Detroit, Mich. in order, were:
  • Denver, Colo. (DEN)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. (MSP)
  • Orlando, Fla. (MCO)
  • Phoenix, Ariz. (PHX)

The ranking took into consideration the terminal facility, food and retail available, baggage claim, accessibility, check-in process and security.

The worst large U.S. airport, according to the survey, is Newark International (EWR), which is a hub for Continental, as well as a key link for FedEx. The airport is the 23rd most busy in the world, with more than 35 million passengers in 2008.
The rest of the bottom five, from worst to less-worse:
  • Los Angeles, Calif. (LAX), 59 million passengers, #6 in the world
  • Miami, Fla. (MIA) 34 million, #29
  • Philadelphia, Pa. (PHL) Not in the top 30
  • John F. Kennedy in New York, N.Y. (JFK) 48 million, #13
If you can find the flights, you might do even better in medium-sized and small airports. The top five medium-sized airports:
  • Baltimore Washington, Md. (BWI)
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Chicago Midway (MDW)
  • Cincinnati, Ohio (CVG)
  • Cleveland Hopkins, Ohio (CLE)
The top five small airports were:
  • Albuquerque Sunsport, N.M. (ABQ) (My favorite)
  • Austin-Bergstrom, Texas, (AUS)
  • Bradley, Conn. (BDL)
  • Buffalo Niagara, N.Y. (BUF)
  • Burbank Bob Hope, Calif. (BUR)
Those on the bottom half of the list share this attribute: delays. The five worst airports for on-time departures in 2008 were, in order,
  • New York LaGuardia, 58.5%
  • Newark, NJ (EWR) 59.45%
  • New York Kennedy (JFK) 62.84%
  • Chicago O'Hare (ORD) 65.88%
  • Philadelphia (PHL) 66.54%
The five with the most on-time departures?
  • Salt Lake City (SLC) 83.91%
  • Portland, Ore. (PDX) 83.56%
  • San Diego, Calif. (SAN) 82.52%
  • Tampa, FL (TPA) 81.15%
  • Los Angeles, Calif. (LAX) 80.20%
The five best in snow country were:
  • St. Louis, Mo. (STL) 77.84%
  • Cincinnati, Ohio (CVG) 77.66%
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. (MSP) 77.41%
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA) 77.10%
  • Detroit, Mich. (DTW) 77.00%
The five worst in snow country:
  • Chicago O'Hare, (ORD) 66.48%
  • Newark, N.J. (EWR) 67.78%
  • New York Kennedy, (JFK) 68.98%
  • Philadelphia (PHL) 69.58%
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) 70.70%
I've flown into most of these airports over many years of travel, and this list matches my experience pretty closely, except for Detroit. I suspect that the number of retail establishments had a large impact on the rankings, as airports such as Minneapolis can be a mob scene, but do offer lots of places to drink, eat and shop.

These days, though, I'm not looking for airports that offer a lot of amenities; I just want short lines and expediency, as impractical as that might be.
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