Airports are more secure - but are they friendly?

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on October 19, 2002

Increased security procedures at international airports have made passengers more sensitive to the people skills of airport personnel, and to the availability of food and retail services while waiting for flights, according to JD Power and Associates.

According to the JD Power 2002 Global Airport Satisfaction Study, even though passenger satisfaction with the on-time performance of flights has increased to 74% (compared to 66% in 2001), this gain is offset by increased waiting times and anxiety at security check areas. The number of passengers who are pleased with airport security has dropped from 39% prior to September 11th, 2001, to 32% in 2002.

"Changes in security procedures since September 2001 have had a significant effect on passenger priorities and behaviour," said Michael Taylor, senior director of travel services for JD Power.

As new security procedures have increased the interaction between airport staff and passengers, people skills (such as courtesy and professionalism) have become increasingly important to passenger satisfaction. And, because security procedures have increased wait times at departure gates, passengers are looking for something to do, whether it be shopping, eating or drinking.

Top airports
The study, which measured passenger satisfaction at 46 major airports worldwide, found that Singapore's Changi International Airport and Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok International Airport were ranked highest among medium and large airports, respectively.

"Hong Kong's sophisticated, multi-level airport design was complicated to construct but simplifies passenger flow," explained Taylor. "It includes a state-of-the-art train service, extensive shopping options beyond security checkpoints, and an attentive staff. Singapore emphasises customer service training among its staff and devotes great effort to keeping the facility updated and clean."

In North America, the Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Detroit Metro, Denver, Dallas Fort Worth, and San Francisco airports perform at or above industry average in the large airport category. And medium size airports performing at or above industry average are Tampa, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Portland, Charlotte Douglas, Washington Reagan, Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Fort Lauderdale Hollywood, Cincinnati Northern Kentucky, San Diego, Philadelphia, San Jose and Toronto Pearson.

Austin Bergstrom (in Austin, Texas, USA), the only small airport to appear in the study, and did well with an overall index score that is among the world's highest. And for Europe, Amsterdam Schiphol was the highest-ranked airport in the study.

The study was based on responses from 10,250 airport evaluations from consumers in more than a dozen countries, contacted either by e-mail or by invitation from travel-related web sites.

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