Atlanta Airport Gets Low Marks in Passenger Survey

Passengers troubled by long waits at security checkpoints


ATLANTA (AP) -- The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranked below average for overall passenger satisfaction in a recent survey.

The airport, among the world's busiest, ranked 14th out of 22 large airports around the world in the survey.

The survey was conducted by J.D. Power and Associates and looked at various aspects of airport service such as getting to and around the airport, facilities, retail, security, baggage claim, and customs and immigration.

The study was done between Oct. 25 and Nov. 12.

Hartsfield-Jackson and Los Angeles International tied for the worst score for security checkpoints among large airports. Checkpoints were judged on the time it takes to get through security, the professionalism of the staff and whether the process made people feel safe.

Atlanta passengers were especially unhappy with the time it took to clear security, which averaged at 19 minutes -- an increase from 13 minutes in 2003, said Linda Hirneise, a partner in the Global Travel Practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

Atlanta's 19-minute wait gives it the fifth-longest wait time of all 76 small, medium and large airports in the study.

"We will examine the J.D. Power survey in light of the improvements we can make in addition to the improvements we've already made this year,'' said Robert Kennedy, director of marketing and public relations at the airport. "We're already seeing wait times that are lower than they were earlier in the year.''

The federal Transportation Security Administration runs airport checkpoints, meaning local airport officials have little control over staffing. But in areas airports do control -- such as terminal facilities and food -- Atlanta did not score well either, Hirneise said.

One reason is that other large airports in the survey improved their scores over last year, especially in Houston, Dallas, Chicago and San Francisco.

Passengers ranked Hong Kong No. 1 and Orlando, Fla., No. 2 in the world for 2004.