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Travelers give Salt Lake City International Airport the second-highest satisfaction rating among the nation's large hub airports, according to a new study.
Phoenix Marketing International used its AirportXP platform to ask travelers with smart phones at the nation's 250 busiest airports to rate in real time their experiences on a scale of one to seven.
In 81 percent of the responses from the Salt Lake airport, passengers gave it an overall ranking of a six or seven between November and February.
That ranked second-best nationally, edged out by Tampa International Airport which had such rankings 82 percent of the time.
Rounding out the top five were Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, N.C., 79 percent; Chicago Midway International, 78 percent; and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, 76 percent.
Scott Ludwigsen, executive vice president of Phoenix International's Travel Research Group, said Salt Lake City International ranked especially high in three areas arriving at the terminal, its check-in process and baggage delivery.
"In fact, I would call Salt Lake City the best in class with getting to the terminal and check-in experience as far as large airports are concerned," Ludwigsen said. "As far as baggage delivery, they tie with Tampa."
In other areas, such as retail concessions and security check points, Salt Lake "does well, but is not excelling in those areas versus other large airports," he said. "It is not lagging behind other airports. They are at parity with other large airports."
However, some of the areas where Salt Lake does well such as ease of dropping off passengers, finding parking and navigating its roads faces challenges as the airport continues its terminal redevelopment. It plans to start shifting some roadways there next month as part of construction.
Ludwigsen said satisfaction ratings need not drop because of that construction.
"Very high-performing airports can continue to maintain their passenger satisfaction scores if they do a good job of communicating with people to know what to expect before they arrive at the airport," he said.
"We have seen some airports that have basically redone their parking, put in a new parking garage, changed their roadways but if they do a good job on their website and on their signage leading up to the airport … passenger scores don't need to be impacted."
Phoenix Marketing uses software that can identify cellphone users at the airport, and offers surveys about their experience. It says that allows airports and other to identify problems quickly and resolve them.
The company said the rankings were based on more than 170,000 traveler responses that ranked services at the nation's 250 busiest airports.