RALEIGH-DURHAM AIRPORT – The Raleigh-Durham International Airport tied for a fourth-place ranking among 27 large airports in North America in a recent analysis of customer satisfaction conducted by J.D. Power, a drop of one spot from last year’s third-place ranking.
In 2021, RDU received an overall customer satisfaction index rating of 841, but in the latest report, the airport only scored an 813. The airport ranked behind Tampa International, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, and Dallas Love Field. And RDU received the same overall index score as Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
While outperforming the average large airport, which scored 784 according to the index, RDU saw a drop of 28 points compared to its index score from the prior year.
Further, customer satisfaction at RDU fell more than the average airport in North America, as well, as the data from J.D. Power showed that on average, airport satisfaction scores fell by 25 points.
Each airport was assigned an overall index score based on six categories that together signify “overall traveler satisfaction,” a statement from J.D. Power noted. Those factors, which are weighted in order of importance to customers, are terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
More airport stressors to come?
And customer satisfaction could fall even more during the fall and winter travel seasons, said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor 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,” said Taylor in a statement. “In some ways, this is a return to normal as larger crowds at airports tend to make travelers more frazzled, but in cases where parking lots are over capacity, gates are standing room only and restaurants and bars are not even open to offer some reprieve, it is clear that increased capacity in airports can’t come soon enough.”
Some Triangle residents are advocating for more international flights, including a group that is advocating for a direct flight to India. And RDU did recently announce four new direct flights, including flights to the Bahamas and to Cancun, Mexico. In August, Delta resumed nonstop service to Paris, France, which is still the most-used way that those seeking to connect to destinations like Delhi or Chennai in India, according to Town of Morrisville Council Member Steve Rao.
More flights, more carriers, and more passengers
The airport now has 14 different air carriers, now that Bahamasair will add service. Earlier this year, Avelo and Icelandair added service to and from RDU as passenger traffic through the airport ticked up past one million passengers in April 2022.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport scored lower than RDU, though is considered a “mega” airport with more than 33 million passengers annually, and is tracked in a different segment. Of the 20 mega airports in North America, Charlotte Douglas ranked 10th, with an index score of 768, one point lower than the segment average of 769.
The study from J.D. Power is based on more than 26,500 completed surveys from North American residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport within the prior 30 days, upon their receiving and completing the survey, beginning in August 2021 and going through July 2022. RDU ranked ninth in the survey conducted between August 2019 and July 2020 and third in the survey conducted between August 2020 and July 2021.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that RDU ranked 5th in the large airports segment. That was incorrect, as RDU received the same overall index score as Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, and thus is tied for fourth.