The Best and Worst Airports in the United States and Canada: Satisfaction Study 2015

I n the rankings of both large airports and medium airports in North America, J.D. Power and Associates has revealed the results of the North American Airport Satisfaction Study for 2015 — and according to this article released from J.D. Power and Associates, the top large airport in the United States is Portland International Airport; while the top medium airport is Dallas Love Field.

The study measures overall traveler satisfaction with large-sized and medium-sized airports located in North American by examining six factors in order of importance:

  1. Terminal facilities
  2. Airport accessibility
  3. Security check
  4. Baggage claim
  5. Checking in and checking baggage
  6. Terminal shopping

Key Findings

The experiences of checking in and waiting in line at the security checkpoint can “make or break” the satisfaction of travelers at an airport. It is no surprise that the shorter amount of time it takes to check in for a flight and be processed at the security checkpoint at an airport, the satisfaction of the traveler increases.

Among those travelers, the younger ones — classified as “Millennials” and “Generation X” — are more satisfied with the experience and spend more money on food, beverages, merchandise and services in the airport than fellow travelers in other generational groups.

A clean gate area is critical, as it boosts the satisfaction of travelers with terminal facilities; while a messy gate causes that satisfaction to plummet. Ensuring that travelers can clearly hear announcements pertaining to flights — as well as having ample seating and outlets for charging electronics around a gate area — also significantly increases satisfaction with terminal facilities.

Overall satisfaction is highest among travelers who combine both business travel and leisure or personal travel. The study shows that business travelers spend more than double what that of leisure travelers spend when in the terminal 30 or fewer minutes or 120 minutes or longer.

Airport accessibility satisfaction is highest among travelers who get to the airport using ride share services such as Uber or Lyft; while satisfaction is lowest among those travelers who receive a ride from a friend, family member or colleague. Providing space at the curb for dropping off travelers is important to travelers.

Dissatisfied airport travelers are the most likely to be vocal and share their experience with others.

Detailed information pertaining to the key findings are found in the aforementioned article.

Charts of Rankings of Airports in North America in 2015

Where does your preferred airport rank in the study for 2015? Review the charts below to find out.

2015 North America Airport Satisfaction Study Chart

Graphic ©2015 J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw Hill Financial. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

2015 North America Airport Satisfaction Study Chart

Graphic ©2015 J.D. Power and Associates, McGraw Hill Financial. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


I have always believed that significant improvements to an airport to the point where it becomes a pleasant experience to which a traveler looks forward will cause more people to want to use that airport. Ensure that retailers sell at reasonable prices products and services which visitors to the airport want and need — as well as ensure that the airport itself offers products and services which help to take some of the stress out of travel in the form of such examples as plenty of electrical outlets and reasonably comfortable seating — will go a long way towards significantly increasing the satisfaction of the experience of the traveler.

Why should the airport not be a destination in and of itself, anyway?!?

I do agree that airports have improved in general. The international airport in Atlanta is one example, where access to the Internet is now complimentary where it used to cost a fee — and I had no speed issues with accessing the Internet recently. That alone ensured that the experience was improved; and the airport also offers a good choice of dining options and retail outlets where prices are reasonable.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reportedly promised that 30-minute Wi-Fi sessions would be available for free at all three of its major airports — all of which rated low in the study, with two of the three ranking last — by fall of 2014; but that was not my experience regarding my visits this year — although there is a way around that.

I am glad that the mentality of taking advantage of the captive traveler by offering inferior products and services at inflated prices is waning at many airports. Granted, airports located in North America have a long way to go to match the experience at Singapore Changi Airport — which arguably sets the standard as the epitome of an airport which is also a destination for travelers by offering a wealth of complimentary options — but it is nice to see that there is a focus on improvement for the very customer which is the “bread and butter” of the airport: the traveler.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “The Best and Worst Airports in the United States and Canada: Satisfaction Study 2015”

  1. Mike says:

    Everybody gets to pour their own ketchup, at least in the finer restaurants, but I would have rated O’Hare much higher and FLL much lower.

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