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Passengers relax at California's Long Beach Airport. Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

One upside of the global pandemic is that airports are a lot more pleasant these days.

The big picture: A year ago, overcrowding and construction led to delays and confusion for travelers at many major airports.

  • Today, airports are comparatively empty, leading to a sharp increase in traveler satisfaction as passengers breeze through security checkpoints, baggage claims and food and retail services, according to a new study.

Details: Overall customer satisfaction was a record-high 784 (on a scale of 1,000), up 22 points from 2019 in J.D. Power's annual airport satisfaction study.

  • The check-in process, food and retail shops saw significant improvements, while passengers also gave airports high marks for cleanliness, less crowding and lower noise levels.

What they're saying: “Compared to the pre-COVID-19 environment when most airports were running significantly over capacity, the lack of crowds and long lines is actually creating a very convenient experience for travelers right now." said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

The highest-ranking major airports were Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Miami International Airport and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

Go deeper

Nov 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Airlines plot course for coronavirus survival

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Ann Ronan Pictures, Bettmann/Getty Images

With the coronavirus pandemic worsening and no more help in sight from the U.S. government, airlines and airports are scrambling to survive the worst crisis in aviation history.

Why it matters: Promising vaccines offer hope for a recovery, but not until large swaths of the global population are immunized, and that could take years. To get people flying again, airlines are pushing testing and rethinking the travel experience.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

5 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.