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Airport Satisfaction is High Among U.S. Travelers, But So Are Stress Levels

New research reports on airport stress and satisfaction.


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As U.S. consumers and airports prepare for holiday travel, airports, and their associated businesses, can rest a little easier. Mintel research shows airports’ efforts to increase passenger satisfaction have paid off: 90 percent of air passengers are satisfied with the airport experience, with half (50 percent) saying they’re very satisfied. Four in 10 U.S. travelers are very satisfied with airport security (45 percent), cleanliness (42 percent), and in-airport navigation (39 percent).

Mintel research reveals that the principal attributes of “what makes a good airport” are efficient security (79 percent consumer satisfaction), good gate areas (78 percent) and convenience in getting to the airport (78 percent). The biggest areas for improvement regarding consumer satisfaction are retail (64 percent satisfied) and entertainment (54 percent) options.

“Good airport experiences aren’t just a nicety for travelers; there’s a link between passenger happiness and increased airport spending,” says Mike Gallinari, senior travel and leisure analyst at Mintel. “Given that there’s a business case for creating a good airport experience, it’s up to not only airports but also businesses to help make a passenger’s time in the airport a pleasant and memorable one.”

Compared to more functional aspects of the concourse like navigation, food operators, retail shops, and entertainment options are lacking. When it comes to retail shopping, travelers are more inclined to purchase local souvenirs (42 percent) and reading materials (38 percent), meaning that purchasing in other categories can be a hard sell.

“Retailers should concentrate on the demographics that play into their strengths the best in an airport setting and bring products and services that align with their wants, such as brands for younger travelers,” says Gallinari. “If retailers want to flesh out their local goods and souvenir offerings, bringing in local artists and craftsmen aligns with current traveler sensibilities.”

Crowds, costs, and noise stress people out 

The number-one stressor for air travelers is the sheer number of people at the airport. Nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. consumers find the crowds in airports to be stressful followed by the cost of things inside the airport (40 percent) and noise (23 percent).

Seven in 10 (73 percent) U.S. travelers agree they feel taken advantage of when it comes to the cost of things at airports. However, there are stark generational differences: 52 percent of Baby Boomers (age 58-67) find crowds to be the most stressful compared to 40 percent of adult Gen Zs (age 18-25). Half (52 percent) of Baby Boomers find the cost of things in airports to be a stressor compared to a third (35 percent) of Gen Zs. The greatest disagreement between Boomers and Gen Zs, however, is whether the noise in airports is stressful: just 15 percent of Boomers agree compared to 30 percent of Gen Zs.

“Gen Z travelers’ higher tolerance for crowds at airports could present an opening for airport restaurants and vendors to encourage quiet stores/sections, as these younger consumers find being quiet more valuable than being away from a crowd,” says Gallinari. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility that an airport-run library could be valuable, providing one of the most classic quiet areas in a sea of chaos.”

About The Author

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures,, E! Online,, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.