J.D. Power & Associates recently released its 2016 North America Airport Satisfaction Study, placing Hopkins International Airport (CLE) last among medium-sized airports.
The study measured overall traveler satisfaction based on five factors, including airport accessibility, security check, baggage claim, check-in/baggage check, and terminal shopping.
The Airport scored a 704 out of 1,000 in 2016 and 698 out of 1,000 in the 2015 study.
We feel some perspective is warranted.
Data for the J.D. Power airport ratings for both 2016 and 2015 were compiled while the airport was undergoing significant construction. They do not provide a fair representation of the final result of these improvements that were completed in time for guests arriving for the Republican National Convention.
The year-long construction included modernization and upgrading to the exterior façade on the passenger terminal building for the upper and lower levels and the ticketing lobby project on the ticketing and baggage claims levels.
The façade improvements included an upgrade to the existing exterior “skin” structural panels, new lighting, exterior frontage glass and canopy ceilings, structural columns, doorway vestibules, and sidewalk areas.
The terminal ticketing lobby improvements included lighting, skylight systems, and color schemes as well as improvements to the checkpoints. Upgrades on the baggage-claim level improved windows, entry vestibules, exterior soffits and lighting. Improvements outside of baggage claim included a new canopy to shelter passengers waiting for shuttles on the center island.
During construction, passengers needed to arrive much earlier than normal. Auto and passenger traffic flow was altered during this period. Airlines needed to shift their ticket counters to different areas on the ticketing level to allow construction crews to work.
Upgrades to parking; security checkpoints reconfigured
At this same time, CLE also completed Phase II of it parking redevelopment program by installing canopies in the Red and Orange lots. The location to access shuttles for car rental, off-site parking and hotels was also altered.
Further, TSA security checkpoints were reconfigured as Checkpoint B was closed for renovation resulting in added time and frustration. TSA staffing issues also were addressed.
Post-construction positive comments
As Interim Director Fred Szabo has noted: “During this J.D. Power rating period, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was conducting a major construction project, which had a significant impact on customers’ opinions of our airport. Since the conclusion of the project, we have seen significant improvement and a highly positive response from our passengers.
“We are confident that trend will continue, and future surveys will more accurately reflect the dramatic improvements made at CLE.
“We also experienced a period of longer TSA security lines before the security checkpoints were reconfigured last year. We have worked closely with our partners at the TSA as they increased and realigned their staffing which has resulted in significant checkpoint throughput improvements.
“We look forward to continuing to improve the customer’s experience at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.”
Though a source of inconvenience and frustration at the time, the resulting improvements provide a significant upgrade to the airport that will continue to serve CLE travelers.
The Greater Cleveland Partnership works closely and in partnership with Mayor Jackson and airport leadership on air service development issues through the GCP’s Air Service Demand Task Force, including the capital plan.