Sep 22, 2022 - News

Travelers don't totally hate SFO, study shows

People entering security line at SFO
People entering security checkpoint at SFO. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For airline travelers, it's 2019 all over again, Axios' Joann Muller reports.

What's happening: After a brief, blissful period during the pandemic when passengers could breeze through security checkpoints and baggage claims and easily dine at on-site restaurants, airports are again a source of frustration, according to J.D. Power's latest annual Airport Satisfaction Study.

Driving the news: Overall customer satisfaction with North American airports fell 25 points, for a score of 777 out of 1,000 this year, as passenger volume returned to near normal, J.D. Power found.

Details: The Airport Satisfaction Study looks at six factors: terminal facilities, Muller writes; airport arrival/departure; security check; check-in/baggage check; baggage claim; and food, beverage and retail.

  • Crowds are back to pre-pandemic levels: 58% of airport travelers described the terminal as severely or moderately crowded, nearly in line with 2019.
  • Inflation hit the airport: 24% of travelers said they didn't buy food or beverages due to high costs, up from 20% in 2021, and 23% in 2019.

Yes, but: Among "mega" airports — those with 33 million+ passengers annually — San Francisco International Airport had the second-highest passenger satisfaction score.

  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport topped the list at 800, while New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport ranked last at 719.

💭 Nick's thought bubble: I've long felt a sense of pride for SFO and often wonder — why can't the rest of our city look so clean or function so well?

Here are a few things I love about our airport:

  • 🚰 Water bottle filling stations everywhere, especially right after you get through security. Why doesn't every city do this?
  • ➡️ Arrows for entering/exiting the bathrooms. In most cities, people entering the bathroom and those leaving often run into one another. But not in civilized San Francisco, where our bathrooms have arrows directing the flow of foot traffic.
  • 🍔 The food. Yes, it's expensive. But in a pinch, I'm thankful we have local spots with good food to choose from like Amy's (Terminal 1), Andalé (Terminal 2), and the Manufactory Food Hall (International Terminal A).

Of note: More than 1,000 SFO food workers, part of the Unite Here Local 2 union, could strike any day if salary negotiations don’t pan out.

  • The workers, who make $17.05 per hour on average, say they haven’t received a pay bump in three years.
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