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Buffalo Niagara Airport ranks No. 2 in nation for customer satisfaction

If you are among the patrons flying in or out of the Buffalo Niagara International Airport patrons who appreciate its convenience, schedules and pricing, a major marketing information services company agrees.

J.D. Power and Associates rates the Buffalo airport the nation's second best among mid-size airports.

Only Indianapolis International Airport ranks higher for customer satisfaction in North America, according to a report it issued  Thursday.

Buffalo International scored 791 out of a possible 1,000 points (Indianapolis scored 794) to finish just ahead of Fort Meyers/Southwest Florida International Airport with 790.

 

Buffalo airport customers consistently say they like its "easy in, easy out" offerings as well as schedules, ease of parking and passing through security, said Kimberley A. Minkel, who heads the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority that runs Buffalo International.

"It's clean, we do well in pricing, and we're careful about what the community wants and needs," she said. "It really speaks well for the good news story that Buffalo is on the rise."

Minkel noted that although Canadians using the airport has declined in recent years because of the value of the Canadian dollar, Ontario travelers continue to flock to both Buffalo and Niagara Falls International Airport for the convenience not offered at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

She said new offerings such as non-stop flights to Los Angeles and seasonal non-stops to Denver also add to satisfaction with Buffalo International.

"The airlines are obviously satisfied because they are adding more flights," she said.

And though Buffalo International is often hampered by deep snowfall, Minkel noted that it has earned an international reputation for snow fighting that helps maintain reliable schedules.

"We don't close," she said.

Fewer Canadians are using Buffalo International, so the airport's passenger totals declined from a high of 5.2 million a few years ago to about 4.8 million today. Minkel said the 5 million mark was not anticipated until 2020, but those numbers and steady growth are still fairly consistent over the past several years.

Buffalo offers 110 flights to 23 non-stop destinations every day.

Portland International Airport  ranked tops among large airports in North America, according to the J.D. Power survey with a 786 score. It was followed by Tampa International at 775 and Las Vegas McCarran Airport third at 759.

The survey also reported that overall traveler satisfaction has improved from a 731 average in 2016 from 725 in 2015, even as airports post a 5 to 6 percent increase in volume.

“Many airports, especially the nation’s largest airports, were never built to handle the current volume of traveler traffic, often exceeding their design limits by many millions of travelers,” said Michael Taylor, director of the airport practice at J.D. Power. “Yet airports are overcoming infrastructure limits by affecting the things they can influence. Airports are successfully applying technology to improve check-in (+5 points year-over-year), security screening (+3 points) and the food, beverage and retail shopping (+10 points) experiences.”

The survey also said satisfaction with security improved the least due in part to increased traveler volume, contributing to an 8 percent increase in wait times in security lines from 2015.

LaGuardia International Airport in New York, one of the top destinations for Buffalo travelers, ranked last in major airport rankings at 649, mainly because of ongoing construction aiming to combine several LaGuardia terminals into one.

“Those current terminals handle more than 13 million travelers a year. They were designed to handle only 8 million travelers,” Taylor said. “This improvement has been needed for a long time. The new design is going to create major short-term headaches for LaGuardia travelers, but the results will be worth it."

 

 

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