For the third year in a row, Airports Council International (ACI) has named Indianapolis International Airport in Indiana the top airport in North America when it comes to customer service. ACI conducted research in 1,861 airports across 177 countries, surveying more than 550,000 passengers before they boarded their flights. Passengers were asked to rate various aspects of their airport experience and provide an overall satisfaction score as well. The overall scores were used to calculate the ranking, while the more specific score breakdown will eventually be provided to airports in an effort to drive improvement.
"We had passengers score airports based on thirty-four key service indicators. We asked them about the ambience, cleanliness, walkability—how easy it is to navigate around the airport—and a number of other factors," Angela Gittens, director general of ACI World, says. Customers were also asked to evaluate the helpfulness of customer service agents and other airport personnel.
Indianapolis has continued to excel because the airport management "knows its customers well, and is really good at anticipating their needs," Gittens says. Mario Rodriguez, the executive director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority told USA Today that the airport owes its success to "the Hoosier work ethic and Hoosier hospitality," alluding to the area's nickname for state residents. Still, experts say Indianapolis International's size has plenty to do with it as well.
"You can't compare the volume that Indianapolis [International] Airport sees with what you have at Chicago O'Hare or even JFK," Lior Arussy, president of consulting firm Strativity Group, says. "This doesn't diminish the great work being done at Indianapolis International, because their customers are obviously pleased, but when you think about the magnitude of some of these other airports, you're comparing apples and oranges. You can't just ignore volume and size because that's where you see the biggest service challenges," he adds.
At some of largest, busiest airports in the United States, service issues arise because there is a lack of both strategic and technological integration between the three entities that operate every airport—the airlines, the TSA, and the airport management staff. Policies vary from airline to airline, which creates a disjointed experience for travelers and leads to customer service complaints. For example, while some airlines allow passengers to check at least one bag for free, others charge a fee for every piece of checked luggage. As a result, customers that want to avoid paying for checked bags try to fit their belongings into carry-on