America's Worst Airport

The U.S. public, which could barely travel in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, changed the airline industry radically. Carriers parked planes and cut the number of pilots, plane crews and support staff. These companies had to turn to the federal government for assistance. The total tab to taxpayers was $54 billion. Industry CEOs said the money saved the industry.

Fast forward a few months, and carriers were open for business again. Intrepid travelers started to fill airline seats despite the pandemic. Airlines went from having too many planes and too many people to too few of each. Route systems had to be cut back. Flights were delayed or canceled because they were short on crews. However, even angry customers wanted to travel.

A byproduct of the new jump in air travel is that airports were often poorly prepared for the demand. The level of consumer woes showed up in the new J.D. Power 2022 North America Airport Satisfaction Study. On a scale with a maximum grade of 1,000, satisfaction with airports dropped 25 points to 777. Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power commented: “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.”

The study, in its 17th year, covered 26,592 people surveyed between July 2021 and June 2022. Those included must have traveled from a U.S. or Canadian airport in the past 30 days. These were asked about both the airports from which they departed and those at which they arrived.

So that the study compared airports of similar sizes, results were divided into three categories: mega, large and medium-sized airports.

Among mega airports, the one with the lowest score by far was Newark Liberty International with a score of 719. The average score among airports in this category was 769. Coming in with the best score in the category was the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport at 800.

Newark is one of three airports that serve the New York metro area, along with LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.

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