Philly International ranks among bottom-five airports in J.D. Power passenger-satisfaction ratings

Once again, Philadelphia International Airport has come in near the bottom of J.D. Power's annual survey of passenger satisfaction.

With 31.4 million travelers last year, PHL scored 688 out of 1,000 possible points for terminal appearance, airport accessibility, and food, beverage and retail.

Philadelphia came in a notch below Boston Logan and Chicago O'Hare airports, and just above Newark Liberty International and New York LaGuardia airports, all making up the bottom five. PHL slipped to No. 29 this year from No. 27 in 2015.

Airports with the lowest satisfaction ratings have multiple, aging terminals in big metropolitan areas, said Michael Taylor, J.D. Power director of airport studies. "Just like JFK, just like Newark, just like LaGuardia, multiterminal airports are extraordinarily difficult to impact in satisfaction.

"You make improvements to one building, and if you are not flying through that building, you never see those improvements," Taylor said. "Having many buildings, you've got to make improvements in most of them before you get a big impact on satisfaction."

The biggest factor in passenger satisfaction is terminal facilities, said Taylor, based on surveys of 38,000 travelers in 64 airports in North America.

Second in importance to the flying public is access -- ease of getting in and out of an airport, how convenient parking is, and the experience of getting through security screening and to the gates.

Third is food, beverage and retail. The closer those amenities are to the gates, the better.

 Taylor said, "A lot of these airports are victims of their own success. They have more and more people going through, and they are just bursting at the seams."

In response to the ranking, PHL spokeswoman Mary Flannery said, "We are disappointed. Passenger satisfaction is very important, and we work hard at it every day, particularly in those areas where we can make a difference."

The airport recently completed a $161 million expansion and makeover of Terminal F, including a new baggage-claim building. In late 2008, a "connector" building opened between Terminals D and E with shops, expanded passenger screening, and more gates. Earlier this year, a major revamp was announced for Terminal B with iPads at seats in 15 gate and eight new restaurants. The $30 million redesign by New York-based food and beverage provider OTG Management is slated to open in mid 2018.

The rankings were based on responses from passengers who began and ended trips at the airport -- not on the comments of connecting passengers who might walk between terminals, and see more of what the airport offers. J.D. Power plans to incorporate responses of connecting passengers in next year's ratings, Taylor said.