Lambert airport again lags in J.D. Power consumer satisfaction survey | Along for the Ride

St. Louis Lambert International Airport again lagged behind its peers in this year’s annual traveler satisfaction study from the J.D. Power consulting firm. But Lambert showed some gains as well.

The study, based on responses from 34,695 people surveyed between January and August, ranked Lambert 17th among 21 large U.S. airports.

Last year, when Lambert was in the medium-airport category, it finished 29th out of 33. J.D. Power revamped its system this year, dividing airports into medium, large and “mega” categories. Last year there were just two categories, large and medium.

The survey measured overall consumer satisfaction in six areas. In order of importance, the company says, were terminal facilities, airport accessibility, security checks, baggage claim, passenger check-in/baggage check and food/beverage/retail.

While still near the bottom in the rankings, Lambert’s overall performance description moved to “about average” from a lesser group of airports dubbed “the rest.”  The other categories are “among the best” and “better than most.”

Lambert also moved from “the rest” status to “about average” in the categories of airport accessibility, security checks, terminal facilities and baggage claim. As they did in 2016, travelers rated Lambert as average in passenger check-in/baggage check.

Lambert spokesman Jeff Lea said the airport was pleased to see those changes. He added that the study didn’t take into account some newly-opened stores and food venues and the planned opening of a non-exclusive passenger club in Terminal 2.

Moreover, he noted, a planned expansion of free wireless internet service to 60 minutes likely will take effect Oct. 1.

Nationally, J.D. Power said, overall satisfaction scores reached an all-time high. That was spurred by a big jump in satisfaction with the way security checks are handled.

With all subject areas considered, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif., ranked the highest in the large airport category. In second and third were Tampa International and Dallas’ Love Field.

At the bottom among large airports was New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Also finishing below Lambert were airports in Honolulu, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Fla., and Philadelphia.

Orlando, Fla.’s airport was the top finisher among “mega” airports, followed by Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and McCarran International in Las Vegas.

The lowest-ranking “mega” airport was Newark Liberty. Second and third worst in that category were Los Angeles International and Chicago’s O’Hare International.

Sacramento, Calif., led medium-size airports, followed by airports in Indianapolis and Anchorage, Alaska. In last place was Bradley International Airport outside Hartford, Conn.

New county bike plan

St. Louis County is taking steps to update its plan to make roads and streets more useable for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The East-West Gateway Council of Governments on Wednesday is expected to approve the county’s request for a $500,000 federal grant to help pay for the study. The county would kick in $250,000.

Larry Welty, an engineer with the county Department of Transportation, said the study would map much of the county and determine where different ideas can be best used.

Among them, he said, are dedicated bicycle lanes, shared lanes with vehicles, bike paths separated from vehicle lanes and new sidewalks where there are none now.

The plan would update a region-wide bike plan compiled by the Great Rivers Greenway park district several years ago. “There were a lot of (county) roads that needed further study” in that plan, Welty said.

The updated map won’t be cast in stone but used as a guide on which to base decisions when various street projects are considered. The County Council and county executive would still have final say on each change; the plan itself also needs their approval.

Welty said a consulting firm would be hired to work on the plan, focusing mainly on county-maintained arterial roads running through both unincorporated areas and municipalities. Other streets the county is responsible for also would be involved.

In addition, he said, “we’re going to take into account what the cities are doing” with their own city-maintained streets. But he said the county plan won’t propose specific changes for them.  Welty said citizen input also would be sought.

He said the plan would help implementing the Complete Streets policy adopted by the council in 2014 amid some controversy.

Satisfying both motorists and bicyclists isn’t always easy.  For example, late last year, the Chesterfield City Council successfully fought a county re-striping plan for Baxter Road between Clarkson and Wild Horse Creek roads.

County highway officials wanted to switch to two driving lanes from four, with two outside lanes for bike use only.  That would have been done along with pavement repairs and resurfacing.

Residents who were opposed warned of added traffic congestion, a point disputed by the county. The county eventually backed off, instead designating the outside lanes as shared lanes for vehicles and bikes.

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