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Las Vegas airport ranks third in customer experience

There’s an adage that everything comes in threes — even in Las Vegas.

For a third consecutive year, McCarran International Airport offered the third-best customer experience among 19 “mega-sized” airports in North America, according to the J.D. Power 2017 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.

“McCarran has this ideal location that offers fantastic access where you can get to the Strip pretty quickly,” said Michael Taylor, director of travel services at J.D. Power.

“They’ve made a lot of improvements to making the baggage claim area more efficient, they take advantage of advertising by promoting shows on the Strip, and the security lines move pretty quickly,” Taylor said. “McCarran has all the operational things in place to make it a great airport.”

Unique touches helped McCarran stand out, including slot machines near the airline gates and occasional live entertainment acts as part of the airport’s “Voices of Vegas” program.

But Taylor said that McCarran could improve its standing by offering “only in Las Vegas” dining and retail options within the terminals — a trend that has taken root at other mega-sized airports, including Atlanta and Los Angeles.

“It just gives travelers a sense of place so that you know where you’re at,” Taylor said.

Orlando International was ranked first in traveler satisfaction, followed by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and McCarran in a survey that measured the quality of terminal facilities, accessibility, security checks, baggage claim, check-in and food and retail concessions.

But the rankings were done a little differently this year amid concerns that some of the nation’s busiest airports were compared with smaller facilities. To address the issue, J.D. Power created a “mega airports” category for those with 32.5 million or more passengers.

Last year, McCarran came in third after airports that handle fewer airline passengers in Portland, Oregon, and Tampa, Florida. Those airports and others were moved this year to a separate “large airports” category.

“We noticed that these airports have different personalities,” Taylor said. “We found that mega airports serve large city centers, offer connecting flights and grow their passenger traffic at a faster rate, like at McCarran.”

McCarran, the nation’s eighth-busiest airport, is on a record-setting pace, serving 28.1 million passengers during the first seven months of 2017. If those figures continue to climb through the end of the year, the airport could break its record of 47.8 million passengers, set in 2007.

The satisfaction study was based on responses from 34,695 North American travelers who came through at least one domestic or international airport with both departure and arrival experiences from January to August.

New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International ranked lowest in customer satisfaction among mega airports, followed by Los Angeles International and O’Hare International in Chicago.

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Find @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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