Hartsfield-Jackson ranks 18th among large airports in traveler satisfaction


Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Credit: Kelly Yamanouchi

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ranked 18th out of 31 large airports scored in a study of traveler satisfaction.

The Atlanta airport fell in the rankings from its No. 8 ranking last year in the recent J.D. Power North American airport satisfaction study. Hartsfield-Jackson's score declined 9 points this year to 733 on a 1,000-point scale.

The more than 100 million travelers that pass through Hartsfield-Jackson annually is equivalent to "putting about one-third of the U.S. population through a few buildings in Georgia over the course of a year," according to J.D. Power airport practice director Michael Taylor in a written statement.  "Yet, everything runs fairly efficiently."

J.D. Power noted, however, that the decline in satisfaction shows Hartsfield-Jackson is "feeling the strain," and is planning a $6 billion renovation and expansion over the next 20 years.

That construction and other airport renovation projects across the country "will make it difficult for travelers to access the airport and, once there, it will likely make it even more difficult to navigate the crowded terminals," according to Taylor. "During construction, airports need a solid strategy for passenger flow.... The goal would be to prevent traveler stress and aid on-time flow."

But once renovations are complete, traveler satisfaction should improve, according to Taylor.

Bigger isn't always better when it comes to traveler satisfaction. Large airports can be more difficult to navigate, with bigger crowds and longer walks to parking and to connect between flights, for example.

Overall traveler satisfaction with large airports is lower than satisfaction with medium airports, the J.D. Power study shows. Large airports scored 724 overall, compared with medium airports at 760.

"Many airports, especially the nation's largest airports, were never built to handle the current volume of traveler traffic, often exceeding their design limits by many millions of travelers," according to Taylor.

Hartsfield-Jackson, for its part, notes that it was named the No. 1 airport in a TravelPulse survey released last month.

One survey respondent called the airport "an absolute nightmare,"TravelPulse noted, saying it's "terrible trying to get from one end of the airport to the other" and "I try to avoid it at all costs!"

But other survey respondents said said the airport "handles the traffic relatively comfortably" and has "a great variety of stores and restaurants," according to TravelPulse.


J.D. Power North American Airport Satisfaction Study

Large airport ranking

  1. Portland, Ore.
  2. Tampa
  3. Las Vegas McCarran
  4. Orlando
  5. Miami
  6. San Diego
  7. Salt Lake City
  8. Toronto Pearson
  9. Washington Reagan
  10. Chicago Midway
  11. Charlotte Douglas
  12. Denver
  13. Dallas/Fort Worth
  14. Phoenix Sky Harbor
  15. Baltimore Washington
  16. Detroit Metro
  17. Minneapolis/St. Paul
  18. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
  19. Honolulu
  20. Washington Dulles
  21. San Francisco
  22. Seattle-Tacoma
  23. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood
  24. New York JFK
  25. Houston Bush
  26. Los Angeles
  27. Boston Logan
  28. Chicago O'Hare
  29. Philadelphia
  30. Newark Liberty
  31. New York LaGuardia