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Summer Months, July and August, Ranked Lowest in Passenger Satisfaction According to HappyOrNot Airport Study

Airport Authorities prepare for peak vacation travel, placing extra effort on security operations and overall passenger experience


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HappyOrNot®, the global leader in instant employee and customer satisfaction reporting has announced it’s 2017 Air Transportation Benchmark Study detailing airport passenger satisfaction trends and key improvements airport authorities are making –  especially in the peak summer travel season.

During their day of travel, 120 million passengers provided 41 million feedbacks via HappyOrNot® Smiley Terminals™ located in over 100 airports worldwide. That data has been analyzed to spot trends and traveler satisfaction ratings across various aspects of the airport experience during certain days, hours, and times of the year.

Specifically, the data shows key insights affecting both air travelers and members of the airport community ⎯ from authorities behind the scenes setting policies and procedures to the front of the line staff interfacing with passengers.  

Summer Months in Hot Water. Saturday Night Specials.

According to Airlines for America, an airline industry think-tank, U.S. airlines expect to carry 234 million passengers from June 1 through August 31, up from the summer record of 225 million a year ago.  The bad news for both passengers and airport authorities is that the upcoming months, July and August, ranked the lowest in the Passenger Satisfaction Study.

Airport Satisfaction Benchmark by Month 2016

In addition, though Saturdays are often reported as one of the cheaper days to travel, it appears that there is a trade-off in terms of having a satisfied airport experience. In fact, year after year, the data shows that Saturdays and Sundays prove to be the worst days, and especially around the red-eye flight times between midnight and 2am.

Airport Satisfaction Benchmark by Weekday 2016

As for 2017 to date, the data shows the ranking to be following similar trends.

The multi-year data supplied by the HappyOrNot service also measured passengers’ views of other high traffic areas, including  airport access, check-in, restrooms and baggage claim – so that proactive measures can be taken to avoid preventative congestions and delays.

Main Area Passengers Rating 2015 vs 2016 Best Day Worst Day
Security experience 15.9 million 86.3% An increase of 1.4 percentage points Tuesday Sunday, especially from evening to night
Restroom cleanliness 7 million 73.8% An increase of 3.1 percentage point Wednesday Sunday, with overall decline starting from 7pm until 3am
Check-in experience 1.9 million 78.7% An increase of 0.9 percentage points from 2015 Tuesday Sundays, lowest scores during 9pm and 2am
Baggage claims 1.2 million 75.5% An increase of 1.4 percentage points Thursday Sunday, especially between 1am and 4am

All is Not Lost – Enter Wednesday.

While Saturday and Sunday were shown statistically the most problematic days of travel, the same data showed that the best day of travel, from a customer satisfaction standpoint, was Wednesday. Moreover, many airports are making significant investments in better understanding their service level trends in key “touchpoint” areas and making investments to address gaps therein.

One example is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which aims to maintain effective and efficient security operations nationwide during the busy travel season. According to their recent Press Release, this summer, nationwide, 50 more passenger canine teams will be in use compared to last summer, and 2,000 more TSA officers will be working this year compared to last year. This is one way to the ways government authorities in the airport community is addressing the increase of foot traffic at airports during the summer to avoid congestions and delays.

Other Airports, such as Dulles International and Reagan National Airports, which served 45.6 million passengers in 2016, will be keeping a close eye on their summer peak travel months as they continuously improve their passenger experience. “Within 6 months of deploying the HappyOrNot kiosks, over 250,000 data points were collected giving us the ability to quickly understand our customer’s perception of the changes we have made and determine whether they are having the desired impact,” says Gene Sutch, Director, Revenue Strategy & Analysis of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

He continues: “The hourly HappyOrNot feedback combined with our monthly online customer survey and daily website comments help us gain more knowledge on how to ensure that our customers have the best possible airport experience at Dulles International and Reagan National Airports.”

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Contact HappyOrNot Americas Inc.

Johnelee Dizon, Marketing Director, 305-469-2785,

Sofia Sapojnikova, Sales & Marketing Communications Manager, 561-570-0292,

About HappyOrNot

HappyOrNot® is the global leader in instant customer and employee satisfaction reporting. Our innovative feedback collecting smileys and intelligent data analytics reporting service help our clients to improve their customer experience, relationships, and employee engagement. We serve nearly 4,000 companies across 117 countries and have collected and reported on over a half billion feedbacks.

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