Apr 2, 2024 - Transit

DTW doesn't rank high for TSA complaints

Data: TSA via Data Liberation Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
Data: TSA via Data Liberation Project; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Detroit Metro Airport has a lower-than-average rate of TSA complaints compared with other airports, per data from the transportation agency.

Why it matters: Air passengers nationwide are reporting complaints at a higher rate than before the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Data Liberation Project.

State of play: DTW ranked 49th in the country out of 103 major airports for the number of complaints per capita between January 2023 and January 2024.

By the numbers: We logged 2,336 complaints in that year, for a rate of 15.76 complaints per 100,000 passengers.

  • Comparatively, Newark — the airport with the most complaints — logged 6,740, or 36.19 per 100,000.
  • Charlotte, which saw the fewest gripes, reported 1,976, or 7.76 per 100,000.

The intrigue: Somehow, DTW saw more complaints per capita than Chicago O'Hare International. The airport Michiganders love to slam for long delays on connecting flights was ranked 54th.

Zoom in: The analysis found TSA PreCheck was the subject of the vast majority of gripes at DTW, with nearly 1,700 complaints. That was followed by customer service, screening and handling of property.

Context: A spike in complaints was logged in early 2020. This was because there were more complaints relative to the extraordinarily low passenger volume at the time.

The bottom line: No airport is perfect and air travel is always going to be stressful. But DTW ranked highest in customer satisfaction in a 2023 J.D. Power airport satisfaction study, getting the most points for terminal facilities, security check and food/beverage/retail.

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