Indianapolis airport ranked number one in passenger satisfaction survey

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Travelers must be loving the billion-dollar of improvements and new passenger terminal at Indianapolis International Airport.

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Travelers must be loving the billion-dollar of improvements and new passenger terminal at Indianapolis International Airport.

J.D. Power and Associates announced that the Indianapolis airport ranks at the top of the list of 64 major airports in the country in a survey of passenger and visitor satisfaction during the past year.

That means that passengers think the new airport terminal opened 14 months ago had few of the lost luggage and other problems that have bedeviled other new airports.

“We found that Indianapolis ranked highest in both the small category of airports with fewer than 10 million passengers a year and also highest overall in the entire study. And that’s up from a tie for 13th in the previous study two years ago,” said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of global hospitality for J.D. Power.

The Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal opened slightly more than a year ago, perfect timing for the market survey conducted from January to December 2009.

And the high ranking for Indianapolis comes at a time when travelers are otherwise likely to be critical of much of the travel industry.

“This year’s study was about getting the basics right. In an airport, that means getting passengers in and out of the terminal with ease,” he said.

“There have been advances in technology that have revolutionized air travel during the past decade,” he said. “However passenger satisfaction with airports continues to lag behind that of other aspects of the travel industry, largely because passenger expectations of basic needs — such as prompt baggage delivery, airport comfort and ease of navigating the airport – are not being met consistently,” he said.

The California-based J.D. Power and Associates, long known for its marketing research and forecasting, devised a 1,000-point scale to calculate customer opinions and satisfaction that can be applied in many service and manufacturing industries.

For this year’s North America Airport Satisfaction Study, a series of questions were answered by 12,100 visitors to 64 airports, which were then ranked by size.

With 777 points on the Power scale, Indianapolis topped the group of 24 small category airports with fewer than 10 million passengers a year. Indianapolis had about 9 million last year.

Kansas City International had 742 points to lead the medium size group with fewer than 30 million passengers. And Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport had 705 points atop the large airport category with more than 30 million passengers.

Indianapolis was either first or second in each of the six key areas measured for customer satisfaction, he said.

Areas of greatest impact include an airport’s accessibility, baggage claim area, check-in and baggage check-in process, terminal facilities, ease of security checks and food and retail services.

The study also found that happy travelers tend to spend more money in airport terminals.

Passengers who were disappointed with their airport experience spent an average $14.12 on food and retail shops, while those who were delighted spent $20.55.

Indianapolis airport managers haven’t been shy to acknowledge several other travel industry awards for the new concessions operations, the millions of dollars spent on art and architecture, and the high-tech security checkpoints. They did not know the results of the Power survey in advance of the release today.

“What we see is that Indianapolis has definitely raised the bar on performance and is challenging other airports to improve their customer experience,” Greif said.

The full rankings can be found at

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