Denver, CO

DIA’s customer satisfaction score drops as crowds return

Brittany Anas

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As travel bounces back to pre-pandemic levels, and mirroring a nationwide trend, customer satisfaction scores at DIA dropped this year.Denver International Airport

By Brittany Anas / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, CO) Amid a major construction project, longer-than-usual security wait times and shuttle woes, customer satisfaction at Denver International Airport dropped this year, according to an annual survey from J.D. Power.

DIA, which was ranked the No. 3 busiest airport in the world earlier this year, scored 759 on a 1,000-point scale in the J.D. Power 2022 North American Airport Satisfaction Study.

In 2020 and 2021, when airports were slower than normal due to the global pandemic, DIA’s satisfaction score was 793.

This year’s satisfaction ranking puts DIA at No. 14 on a list of 20 of the largest airports in the United States and Canada. With an 800-point score, Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport ranks the highest in passenger satisfaction among the mega airports and Newark Liberty International Airport came in last in the category with the lowest score of 719.

DIA’s score is also below the large airport average of 789.

According to J.D. Power, overall customer satisfaction at North American airports was at an all-time high in 2021 when passenger volumes were a fraction of the historical norm.

Now, passenger volume is back up to 91 percent of pre-pandemic levels and labor shortages are causing a record number of flight cancellations, prompting the sky-high satisfaction scores to fall back down to Earth.

Overall, customer satisfaction with North American airports has fallen 25 points.

What’s more, inflation is hitting the airport, with 24 percent of travelers saying they didn’t make any food or beverage purchases at the airport because they were too expensive.

Other pain points include expensive airport parking and not having ample options when it comes to parking. Parking rates increased this year at most DIA lots.

“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 Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power in a press release.

In some ways, Taylor explains, 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.

At DIA, the airport is in the midst of a major construction project that involves building new security checkpoints and renovations to accommodate 100 million annual passengers.

In the past, DIA has been recognized as a passenger favorite, winning USA Today Readers’ Choice Award for “Best Large Airport.” In 2020, J.D. Power’s airport satisfaction study put DIA at No. 4 in the mega airport division.

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Brittany is a journalist in the Denver metro area with more than two decades of writing and editing experience. She covers travel, restaurants and other lifestyle topics.

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