YVR Airport ranked one of North America's best for passenger satisfaction

Sep 26 2019, 11:42 am

The latest North American airport passenger satisfaction study by JD Power ranks Vancouver International Airport (YVR) as amongst the continent’s best airports in this customer service performance metric.

With a score of 801, the California-based analytics and marketing company’s 2019 report ranks YVR as the sixth best for passenger satisfaction in the ‘large airport’ category — just behind Raleigh-Durham International Airport (score 801) and ahead of Sacramento International Airport (score 800).

While YVR earned the same ranking in the same 2018 study, its performance actually improved measurably, reflected by its 20 point increase from its previous score of 781.

The top airport in the category was Portland International Airport, with a score of 833. Calgary International Airport also made the category’s list, ranked 17th with a score of 765 — the average score for the ‘large airport’ category.

For the ‘mega airport’ category, the ranking was topped by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport’s score of 786. Airports such as San Francisco International Airport (rank 13th, score 750), Toronto Pearson International Airport (rank 14th, score 745), and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (rank 16th, score 740) were below the category’s average score of 756.

Model of the interior of the Pier D expansion of the Vancouver International Airport terminal building. Scheduled for a 2020 completion. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

The study examined six factors in the following order of importance: terminal facilities; airport accessibility; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage, and retail.

Analysts say top-performing airports benefit from relatively new facilities that accommodate increased passenger volume, incorporate local food and beverage offers, and easy access.

Some of the downward scores for certain airports are likely also a result of construction-related delays, as a number of airports are currently working to increase their capacity to meet booming air travel demand.

In the United States, TSA airport security efficiency has also improved following the implementation of more widespread biometric screening technologies that move passengers through the process faster.

Diagram of Vancouver International Airport’s planned ‘central’ expansion. (Vancouver Airport Authority)

JD Power classifies a ‘mega airport’ as those having 33 million or more passengers per year, ‘large airport’ as 10 million to 32.9 million passengers per year, and ‘medium airport’ as 4.5 million to 9.9 million passengers per year.

YVR saw 25.94 million passengers in 2018, and its annual traffic flows could increase to 31 million passengers by 2022. The airport is currently in the process of a 20-year, $9.1-billion expansion and improvement project, including a significant terminal building expansion, with the first phase opening by the middle of 2020.

2019 North American 'large airport' rankings for passenger satisfaction. (JD Power)

2019 North American ‘large airport’ rankings for passenger satisfaction. (JD Power)