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CALIFORNIA

LAX Customer Satisfaction Below Average

Survey: Passengers cite lack of facilities, poor service. Orlando and Tampa airports fare best.

November 14, 2000|STEPHEN GREGORY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The votes are in, and LAX may want a recount.

The West Coast's busiest airport fared so poorly in a recent poll of air travelers that it didn't even crack the ranking of the nation's best airports in customer satisfaction, according to marketing firm J.D. Power & Associates in a survey to be released today.

Los Angeles International Airport, it seems, doesn't have sufficient retail and dining amenities to divert travelers from mounting boredom and frustration while they wait for their flights.

Southern California's foremost gateway also leaves much to be desired when it comes to friendly service, tidy gate areas and easily navigated terminals, according to 351 air travelers who rated the facility last summer as part of a broader survey of the nation's airports. Overall, more than 2,700 were polled.

LAX, it turns out, placed "below industry average," the study found.

Meanwhile, as if Florida hasn't grabbed enough attention recently, it appears the country's two best airports just happen to be in the Sunshine State.

Travelers ranked Orlando International Airport as best in the large airport category (30 million or more passengers per year), and Tampa International Airport topped the chart for medium-size airports (15 million to 29.9 million passengers a year).

Don't go looking for any electoral tea leaves in these results though. The victorious airports seem to be as divided on the presidential race as the rest of the state. Tampa's Hillsborough County voted for George W. Bush, while Orlando's Orange County went for Al Gore.

Joining LAX in the "below industry average" category are Chicago O'Hare, Detroit Metro and New York's Kennedy airports.

"What really interferes with customer satisfaction at larger airports is the sheer number of people travelers at those facilities have to deal with," said Mike Taylor of J.D. Power. Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 of this year, LAX handled a record 45.6 million passengers.

LAX spokeswoman Nancy Castles wasn't surprised by Orlando's top ranking. "It's a brand-new airport with all kinds of improvements and features," she said. "We do have a very old facility."

She said LAX has contracted J.D. Power to poll passengers on what types of retail services they'd like.

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