Toronto's Pearson ranked among the worst in North America airport survey

Crowd of passengers waiting to check-in for their flight at Pearson International Airport in Ontario, Canada. Some passangers are wearing masks to protect from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Pearson International Airport is Canada's largest and busiest airport. (Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Toronto's Pearson International Airport is one of the lowest ranked major airports in North America when it comes to customer satisfaction, a new report has found. (NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Toronto's Pearson International Airport is one of the lowest ranked major airports in North America when it comes to customer satisfaction, a new report has found.

According to the J.D. Power 2022 North American Airport Satisfaction study released on Wednesday, Pearson International was ranked 16th of the 20 largest "mega" airports in North America. The airport scored 755 points out of a possible 1,000, below the average of 769 but slightly above Boston Logan (754), Los Angeles (753), Chicago's O'Hare (751) and New York's Newark Liberty (719).

At the top of the list for the mega airports – defined as those that serve more than 33 million passengers passing through per year – are Minneapolis-Saint Paul (800), San Francisco (796), Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (791) and New York's John F. Kennedy Airport (791).

The J.D. Power study is based on a survey of more than 26,000 passengers from Canada and the U.S. travelling through North American airports. Respondents were asked about satisfaction regarding terminal facilities; airport arrival and departure; baggage claim; security; check-in and baggage check and food, beverage and retail services.

The survey was conducted between Aug. 2021 and July 2022, a period that included the summer travel season, when many airports were gripped by chaos amid a resurgence in travel demand that combined with labour shortages and processing issues and led to a wave of cancellations and delays.

"The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labour shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated – and it is likely to continue through 2023," Michael Taylor, J.D. Power's travel intelligence lead, said in a news release.

"(It) is clear that increased capacity in airports can't come soon enough."

Vancouver International scored 794 points for a ranking of 11th out of 27 large airports, defined as those serving between 10 million and 32.9 million passengers per year. Calgary International was ranked 17th with 780 points, below the large airport average of 784 points, while Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport was 22nd with 766 points.

In the medium airport category, defined as those serving between 4.5 million and 9.9 million passengers per year, Ottawa's Macdonald-Cartier airport scored 806 points for a ranking of 10th out of 18, while Edmonton International scored 799 points for a ranking of 12th out of 18. The average score for medium airports was 807.

The survey found that overall airport satisfaction was down 25 points compared to 2021 as travellers grappled with fewer flights, crowded terminals and sparse food and beverage offerings. More than half (58 per cent) of travellers described terminals as severely or moderately crowded. About one in four (24 per cent) say they did not make food or beverage purchases at the airport because they were too expensive.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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