A down year for air travel was a good one for Raleigh-Durham International Airport in terms of satisfied customers.
RDU ranked third among the country’s large airports in the annual passenger survey done by the consumer analytics firm J.D. Power. That’s up from ninth in last year’s survey.
The study, based on 13,225 passenger surveys from August 2020 through July 2021, looks at airport performance in six categories: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
Overall, passenger satisfaction at U.S. airports reached a record high last fall and winter, as crowds were largely absent, according to J.D. Power spokesman Brian Jaklitsch. The scores began to come down this spring and summer, as airports filled again and struggled to restart food and retail operations, Jaklitsch said.
RDU is establishing its first “ghost kitchen” to try to increase dining options that have dwindled during the coronavirus pandemic. Several restaurants in the terminals will not be returning, and many of those that have are operating at reduced hours because they say they can’t find enough employees.
More than 880,000 passengers passed through RDU in August, about 175% more than August 2020 but still about a third fewer than the same month in 2019.
J.D. Power divides airports into three categories based on passenger volume: medium, large and “mega.”
RDU finished third among 20 large airports, behind Louis Armstrong New Orleans and Tampa international airports. Bringing up the bottom was Philadelphia International, just ahead of LaGuardia.
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport is among the country’s 20 mega airports, handling 33 million or more passengers a year. Charlotte-Douglas finished in the middle of the pack for passenger satisfaction, just behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta and ahead of San Francisco. The top rated mega airport was Miami International.
J.D. Power said it did not rank medium airports this year because of the lower passenger volumes.