A year after tying for first place in customer satisfaction, Las Vegas’ airport fell to third in J.D. Power and Associates’ mega airport customer satisfaction survey.
Last year, McCarran International Airport and Orlando International Airport tied for first in the annual ranking. McCarran and Orlando tied again this year, but this time for third, the global marketing information services company announced recently.
McCarran also ranked third in the survey from 2015-2017.
Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said the drop isn’t terrible news, since being anywhere near the top is a feat in its own right.
“They are a well-run airport that does all the blocking and tackling really well,” he said. “On top of that, (they) certainly stand out on things like baggage claim. … It’s an exciting baggage claim compared to most airport’s baggage claims.”
With McCarran set to eclipse its passenger record for a third straight year, Taylor said the airport’s ability to maintain a consistent level of customer satisfaction is impressive.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport placed first this year, with Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport coming in second. The top four airports were the only ones to net J.D. Powers’ Power Circle Rating, the firm’s top recognition.
The study is based on responses from 32,276 U.S. and Canadian residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport during the past three months.
Overall, the report found traveler satisfaction flatlined this year after growing for the last few years, largely due to construction-related delays for passengers getting into and out of airports.
“With major terminal construction projects now underway in Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and many other airports, it is becoming impossible for travelers not to experience some form of disruption,” Taylor said “While these projects are absolutely necessary to address surging demand, they are currently causing passenger delays and confusion. This translates into a rushed passenger experience and less money spent on food, beverage and retail, and it’s slowing the progress of the airport satisfaction we’ve seen in the past several years.”
Construction doesn’t affect McCarran passengers, but looking for a parking spot does, Taylor said.
“They’re a victim of their own success,” he said. “They’ve been filling up the airport parking lots, which disrupts people’s travel. About two-thirds of people when they come to the airport have an idea of where they want to park when they get there, and if that one (lot) is full, it puts them behind schedule and gives them a little more stress.”
Bringing some Las Vegas touches into the airport is a highlight of McCarran, Taylor said. Additions like images of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, photos of legendary performers like the Rat Pack and other touches give the facility an enjoyable themed feel.
The J.D. Power report also cited efforts by the Transportation Security Administration to improve screening and security by adding biometric screening at some airports.
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Innovation Task Force and began testing biometric face scanning at its TSA PreCheck line in Terminal 3 this month. The biometric process is said to move passengers through security faster than traditional methods, the report stated.
McCarran also introduced the checkpoint of the future in Terminal 3, testing emerging security technologies in a live setting.
The checkpoint includes CT 3-D scanners, advanced imaging body scanners, a Credential Authentication system and digital signage, all aimed at speeding up the customer check-in process.
“We have a long history of partnering with the TSA on new initiatives and have often been the first to roll out new technologies here at this airport,” Clark County Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis said.
Taylor said McCarran’s location in the middle of the busiest part of town is a plus, since airports serving many large cities are on the outskirts of town.
“It’s one of the most ideally located airports in North America,” he said. “You can see the airport from the Strip, and you can see the Strip from the airport. That’s not something you could say in New York City.”
At a glance
Passenger count increases for 11th straight month
McCarran International Airport continued its record-pacing year in August with its 11th straight month of positive passenger growth.
Last month 4.4 million travelers passed through Las Vegas’ airport, a 3.1 percent increase from the same month last year, the Clark County Department of Aviation announced recently.
The jump in passengers puts McCarran’s 2019 total at 34.8 million passengers, a 3 percent increase over the same period last year.
This year is on pace to be the busiest in McCarran history and would mark the third straight year the record would be surpassed. Last year’s 49.7 million passengers beat out the previous record of 48.5 million passengers set in 2017.
Mick Akers/Special to the Pahrump Valley Times