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Las Vegas airport ties for 3rd in customer satisfaction survey

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September 25, 2019 By Mick Akers

A year after tying for first place in customer satisfaction, Las Vegas’ airport fell to third in the annual ranking.

Last year, McCarran International Airport and Orlando International Airport tied for first in J.D. Power and Associates’ mega airport customer satisfaction survey. McCarran and Orlando tied again this year, but this time for third, the global marketing information services company announced Wednesday.

McCarran also ranked third in the survey from 2015-2017.

The drop from tied for first to tied for third isn’t terrible news, as being anywhere near the top is a feat in it’s own right, according to Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

“They are a well-run airport that does all the blocking and tackling really well,” Taylor said. “On top of that, certainly standout on things like baggage claim. … It’s an exciting baggage claim compared to most airport’s baggage claims.”

With McCarran set to eclipse its record for most passengers for a third straight year, Taylor said the airport’s ability to keep up a consistent level of customer satisfaction is impressive.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport placed first this year, with Minneapolis-Saint 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. or Canadian residents who traveled through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport during the past three months.

Overall, the report found traveler satisfaction flat-lined 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 when they arrive and look 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.

Another bright spot was the Transportation Security Administration adding biometric screening at some airports, improving screening and security.

McCarran is part of the TSA’s 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,” Rosemary Vassiliadis, Clark County aviation director, said earlier this month.

McCarran’s location in the middle of the busiest part of town is a plus for the airport, since airports serving many large cities are on the outskirts of town.

“It’s one of the most ideally located airports in North America,” Taylor 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.”


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