Philly International ranks #1

May 21, 2008 3:58:30 PM PDT
Philadelphia International Airport took top honors in overall customer satisfaction, according to a new survey of passengers at the nation's airports. "Sorry, I don't believe it," said David Fisher of Barnegat, New Jersey.

"I don't buy it," added Trish Abrahams of Wilmington.

The skeptical view: how could Philadelphia be number one with its flight delays and near legendary baggage foul ups?

J.D. Power & Associates conducted the survey of 21,165 passengers who took round-trip flights between April 2007 and March 2008.

It concluded that Philly's airport is number one in treatment of flyers, followed by airports in Las Vegas Nevada, and Orlando Florida. Those airports all handle more than 30 million passengers annually.

The survey covered such issues as airport accessibility, food, check-in and baggage claim.

The majority view from people with whom we spoke today agreed with the findings. Separate the airport from airline woes and compared to other airports, they said the number one rating is fully justified.

"I know they've been whacked in the past with the baggage and stuff like that, but in the last six months they've done a great job here," said Joe Crawford of Newtown Square.

"It's clean and everyone is really helpful," said Amy Kopp of Harrisburg "It's bright. It's cheerful. It's friendly," said Bill Standing of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

With flight delays a given everywhere, passengers praised PHL's amenities. Get stuck here, you can relax in a rocking chair, grab a reasonably priced meal, shop at a mall or try an upscale wine bar that just opened today. "Philadelphia is a great airport example of new amenities for guests while they wait for their flight," said Doug Tomlinson, CEO of Vino Volo.

In the survey, Philadelphia scored well for easy to read signs, good housekeeping and a friendly professional staff. The rating may be a surprise to some, but not to the man who runs the place.

"In the last year or so, we decided to focus on making what we have as good as it can be. A lot of it has to do with an extra measure of customer service," said aviation director Charles Isdell.

While the airport is getting high marks, the airlines are not. Passengers are more dissatisfied with airlines' customer service than they have been in years at a time when carriers are charging more and more for tickets and services.

An annual survey being released Tuesday by the University of Michigan found customers giving airlines the worst grades since 2001, with the industry's overall scores dropping for the third straight year.

Philadelphia's primary carrier, US Airways, finished last in the university's American Customer Satisfaction Index.