How can Hartsfield improve?

What can Hartsfield-Jackson do to improve passenger satisfaction?

The airport fell to No. 10 in the just released J.D. Power satisfaction study — down from No. 8 in 2008, AJC staffer Kelly Yamanouchi reports.

The study of North American airports is based on surveys of passengers and considers six areas — airport accessibility, baggage claim, check-in and baggage check process, terminal facilities, security checkpoints and concessions.

Hartsfield’s largest areas of decline were airport accessibility and check-in and baggage check, Yamanouchi reports.

What should be done?

Do you have a horror story to share or something good that happened that should be standarized?

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112 comments Add your comment

Will

February 19th, 2010
7:34 am

Baggage claim takes way too long at ATL. And they assign too many flights to one carousel at the same time, when there are other carousels not being used. Also, we often sit on the tarmac waiting for a gate to open up. Either make more gates available, or cut back on flights until more gates are built. Also, the ATL security line, while better, is still the most miserable in the country. Now on to Delta…..I could write a book….starting with the disaster of trying to squeeze everyone’s luggage in the overhead bins to avoid the $25 check in fee….

Leslie

February 19th, 2010
8:03 am

Customer Service is key in any business. Hartsfield employees seem miserable and give the impression they really do not want to be there. What ever happened to service with a smile. Most people assisting with check-in are rude, and I have even gotten the eye-rolling when I ask a question. I dodn’t even want to get into the rudness of the security personnel. Even at the restaurants and shops most employees treat the CUSTOMERS like a pack of dogs. What Hartsfield could do to help it’s image is train it’s employees to be kind, courtious, and ALWAYS smile. A simple smile gives off a good impression. If the employees have a difficult time with it I’m sure with our ecomony they can find plenty of people who will gladly take a miserable persons place and smile all day long.

AJ

February 19th, 2010
8:21 am

Free wifi and free luggage carts would be a great start. Good customer service is so important and doesn’t cost the airport a thing outside of training. Customer service is sorely lacking at Hartsfield just as it is in the rest of the city. Surly concessioners and a dismal decor make the airport a miserable place. Take a cue from Charlotte’s airport – bright, airy terminal, rocking chairs and decent BBQ- can’t go wrong there!

Chris

February 19th, 2010
8:22 am

There needs to be better food choices. They need to get rid of the “keep Hartsfield clean” announcements, the airport is loud enough without that nonsense. Delta should abandon the silly new seating, and just go back to the rows of chairs.

Chris

February 19th, 2010
8:23 am

Oh I forgot. FREE wi-fi

Mack

February 19th, 2010
8:27 am

Amen Leslie! I couldn’t agree with you more. The customer experience is the worst of any airport I go. The workers are the most rude people you can encounter. Don’t dare ask a question and put them out for any reason. They all have a huge chip on their shoulder about something. If you hate customer service and your job so much freakin’ quit and quit making everyone else so miserable in the process. I know plenty of friendly, happy, out-going people who are unemployed who would gladly take your place and make it a better experience for us all.

James Freeman

February 19th, 2010
8:28 am

1.Better and closer luggage access after arrival’s

2.Better and closer rental car access company’s

MnM

February 19th, 2010
8:30 am

Oh. Where to start? As a Platinum Princess I could write a book. First, parking is horrendous. Thankfully the economic downturn has meant it’s not as bad as in the past but I should be able to park on property and not have to deal with the hassle of Park and Ride. I live 10 miles away and have checked the parking status on line before I leave my house but when I get there, the lots are closed. Nor will they let you wait for someone to leave. Second, I agree with the attitudes of the concession employees. Honey, leave that at home and at least leave a better impression on those who are just flying through. E concourse has the best employues but even they have tudes some days. Third, baggage claim. Why can it take an hour to get your international luggage? And why does it all come in on one belt? Fourth, Delta check your “Atlanta Room” employee attitudes. I have had to find a bag and while was assured it was there via a phone call, it took me an hour to find it and several times back and forth with the Atlanta Room gatekeeper who clearly didn’t care if she had a job or not. Fifth, and this is for fellow passengers, there are no lines for baggage drop off at the Delta counter. First come, first serve. Not 2 big lines. And when I take advantage of FCFS, do not glare at me. So Delta, put up a sign or something.

TnGelding

February 19th, 2010
8:36 am

Instruct the police to stop harrassing motorists dropping off and picking up passengers. Make sure all available check-in and screening lanes are open during peak times.

TSA: allow patriotic U.S. citizens to avoid invasive screening procedures. Direct others to a special screening area.

Michael Roberson

February 19th, 2010
8:50 am

The customer service by Delta Airlines is terrible . The agents are not friendly at all , I know they are very stressed . I’ve been travling for over 30 years and the last 3 years has not been pleasant. You can not ask a question at Hartsfield , the agents give yo

Sheeple77

February 19th, 2010
8:50 am

First and foremost exiting the parking garage has gone down hill steadily, it takes the automated pay machines up to 5-6 minutes to read my ticket if at all, half the time I have to back up and go to the cashier booth so they can call it in to the parking company. I know of 3 occasions where it has taken me 20 minutes to exit due to the ticket misread issue. Second issue would be the Biz class / Elite security line on the north and south sides, no one polices these lines and there is absolutley no benefeit of having airline status at Hartsfield because anyone can just hop in the Biz class security line and defeat the whole purpose of having it; they might as well just get rid of it. Finally I have to agree with the posts about the poor attitudes of the concession workers, I have gone to grab a bite before my Monday morning flight and never have a work spoken to me by the employee during the entire transaction….they stared at me until I said what I wanted, then they stared at me until I looked down at the register to figure out what I owed and then had the bag of food dropped on the counter while they chatted with their co-workers…Nice, good morning to you as well.

Road Scholar

February 19th, 2010
8:53 am

First bring in SW airlines. Delta doesn’t have a clue. they need more competition.

TnGelding:” allow patriotic U.S. citizens to avoid invasive screening procedures. ” So what do you propose? Anyone wearing a US flag shirt should pass right thru? Yeah, that would be effective! I guess the guy who crashed his plane into the IRS office is patriotic?

Leslie

February 19th, 2010
9:24 am

They could learn from Wachovia. The teller’s always say “How are you today, thank you for your patience, and is there anything else I can assist you with today”. Even if you just sat in the drive through line for 15 minutes their positive, helpfull attitude can change the mood of the most impatient person…you can hear their smile, even it you can’t see them. BTW, I do not work for Wachovia.

Sheeple77

February 19th, 2010
10:41 am

good work AJC…get 13 comments on how to improve and then hide the story so deep in your website no one will ever see it. Did someone from HJAIP call and tell you to cease all critical remarks?

David

February 19th, 2010
1:03 pm

Sell the airport or lease it to a private company. Anything controlled by a municipality is destined to offer lousy customer service. If there is profit involved, there is incentive.

Drew

February 19th, 2010
1:14 pm

Ummm, why would Hartsfield even care what their customer service score is…it’s not like they are competing with anyone! WHERE ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO FLY OUT OF IN ATLANTA??

Jon

February 19th, 2010
1:16 pm

Free wifi and more choices around the gates. The new restaurant added last year was a hot dog stand. And how about telling Paschal’s to fire the worthless wait staff. You could put in yet another Chili’s.

Tay

February 19th, 2010
1:45 pm

My apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I would suggest an elevated or underground walkway from the parking garages. Having this would free up the drop-off/pick-up traffic, and reduce the potential of accidents with pedestrians crossing into the terminal.

Stuck-n-Hartsfield H#LL

February 19th, 2010
1:46 pm

You should have to deal with the city in the security and badging office. Not enough help in either office,rude,changes made without proper notification (althought your told to check the web site daily for changes),due to the corrupt employee(s) that embezzled over $250,000 dollars over a six year period, companies are required to deposit only 1000.00 dollar checks and nothing under.Between Duncan and the BIG Diva that works with him the badging office is in shambles. The only bright spot is the fingerprint office. Who ever runs that part needs a promotion….

JM

February 19th, 2010
1:47 pm

Although I agree with some on the customer service but how is that the fault of the airport. Neither the airport or the City of Atlanta own Delta, Airtran or any of the fast food spots in the airport. Or do they employ the security screens for that matter. Customer service is the responsibilities of these private companies not the airport. I’ve never had an issue with airport staff. The baggage claim however needs to be revamped and quickly.

Mike

February 19th, 2010
1:52 pm

about 10% less airplanes

Debbie

February 19th, 2010
2:03 pm

Exactly what Will said!

T

February 19th, 2010
2:07 pm

1. Picking up someone at the airport is a nightmare. There is no cellular lot and there are not temporary standing areas. Cars are forced to circle the area (which is a little over a mile) until the person they pick up is exactly at the curb.

2. The time it takes to get off the plane and out the doors is way too long. There is most likely nothing that can be done about this because the design of the airport itself is flawed.

IMO, the best airport is DFW. You can get off your plane and to your baggage area in under a minute. I’ve never waited longer than 15 minutes for my bags there because the design is impeccable. HJ takes a very long time and part of that is because of the distance that the bags have to travel from the gate to the baggage claim.

RK

February 19th, 2010
2:19 pm

Yes, a cellular lot would be very helpful.

The parking garage? I’ve never had a problem with that. Tickets work all of the time.

The restaurants are awful (save concourse E, where they are redeveloping). Not only are they small, they have limited menus of basically the same stuff.

Security lines are usually pretty quick, and I get my luggage fairly quickly, too. My travel is weekend, so maybe that is why — Friday nights are empty.

KEEPING IT REAL

February 19th, 2010
2:20 pm

You guys are killing me. All of you would complain if the plane dropped you off in your front yard. How can you complain about customer service when passengers are usually rushing to get the gate.

If your a seasoned traveler you would use the curbside check-in or the self service check in, no need to speak to anyone.

Security check points do need to add more TSA agents but once again if your a seasoned traveler you know about the 2nd security check in… and you also know how to arrive early and how do dress. No need to come with hi heels, boots, cuff linked shirts etc… put all that crap in the carry on bag and move on.

Come on about the food, it’s way to expensive and if your looking for a BONES, PRIME, BRIO or Spondivits your in the wrong spot. Yes, E concourse is very nice I must admitt I do like the ONE FLIGHT SUSHI lounge but $16 for a California roll is crazy. If you need to eat, do it before you arrive.

Everyone expects good service but nobody tips. I’ve seen skycaps empty an entire cab and take bags to the ticket counter and only get $1 tip. Most of your are in coporate america and don’t even speak to the person in the elevator you see everyday but expect a airport worker to bend over and kiss your tail.

And for AJ, how do you compare ATL to charlotte. Atlanta has more people in 1 hour than Charlotte has in 24 hours… And the location of the airport in Charlotte is out of this world. Complain about rental car location, try going to DALLAS. It takes about 20 minutes to get from the rental car back to the terminal and Oakland is the same way. At least you get on a train and to a main car rental terminal…

STOP COMPLAINING AND GET ON THE PLANE

TiredFlyer

February 19th, 2010
2:24 pm

I don’t live within the Metro area but near Atlanta. I have solved my flying problems with the Atlanta Airport by flying from Montgomery, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Macon and even Columbus. I know that this will not help everyone But for those that can vary their departure locations, they will avoid long security line, expensive or nonexistent parking, overcrowded seating areas and will find much friendlier airport workers. And by the way, the flights are generally cheaper than leaving from Atlanta.

KEEPING IT REAL

February 19th, 2010
2:26 pm

BAGGAGE PICK UP… I’ve never been to a major International Airport and had my bags make it to the pick up before I made it. Even in small Savannah Airport you have to wait for your bags and they only have 8 gates. If you don’t want to wait for your bags bring a carry on… and if your in a rush thats your fault. The busiest airport in the world and you want your bags “pronto”… Pick up and drop off, use the lower level to pick up and drop off, once again your not a seasoned traveler if you don’t know these tricks.

KEEPING IT REAL

February 19th, 2010
2:30 pm

Alter departure cities? It may sound like a winner but when you have been on a 3-4 hour flight the last thing you want to do is take a 1 hour drive to Macon, 1 hour drive to ALABAMA, 1 hour drive to Chattanooga, 1 hour drive to COLUMBUS. Your ready to get home, so pay the extra money and stand in line and deal with it.

JM

February 19th, 2010
2:39 pm

Keep it real, KeepingIt but I gotta disagree on the baggage. I travel out of HJ monthly and usually takes me no time to get in (I use all “tricks” plus the expert traveler lane through security) and out (BTW, people paying cash for cabs please stay out of the credit card line) but it never fails that the few times that i need to check baggage it takes at least an extra 30 minutes to get out of there. there has to be a way to speed that up.

AJ

February 19th, 2010
2:40 pm

@Real – Exactly what does the volume of passengers have to do with great facility design? A bright, welcoming, and well-planned terminal works for 400 or 4 million people. Charlotte’s airport was well-planned. You’re pretty defensive about ATL – you either work at Hartsfield or have friends/family with their hands in the profitable Hartsfield-Jackson cookie jar.

Ralph

February 19th, 2010
2:41 pm

1. Train all personnel, including vendors, police and TSA, to smile pleasantly and show a little Southern hospitality.

2. Open more baggage check lines during peak hours.

3. Rework the process of transfer from security intake where your ID and boarding pass are checked to the baggage check lines. The chaos there contrbutes to customer dissatisfaction.

4. Post additional departure gate info monitors at the top of the escalators where you come out of security check lines, and at the bottom of the same escalators where you board the shuttle trains. Last minute gate changes are all too common, and making it easy to confirm gate assignments after passing through security would relieve unnecessary stress.

5. Provide more convenient places to sit down and put shoes back on after passing through security. I try to remember to wear loafers (or flip flops in summer) when I’m flying and don’t need to be dressed for business, but that is not always practical.

6. Paint yellow lines down the middle of concourses to nudge people toward keeping to the right rather than mixing foot traffic going both directions.

7. Provide free wifi in all concourses, and more outlets at gates for waiting passengers to plug in their laptops and cell phone chargers.

8. Stop using the airport as “Siberia for bad cops” from APD. There are too many stories of airports police beating up people, arresting people for “flying while deaf” and transporting to jail even when the airline recognizes there was merely a failure to realize the passenger was deaf and unable to hear instructions, or just acting rudely. Airport cops should be viewed as good will ambassadors who provide the only official face of Atlanta most travelers will encounter. Surly, rude and abusive police conduct must not be tolerated.

9. Prominently post baggage carousel info when passengers exit planes, and distribute baggage more evenly among available carousels.

10. Separate pedestrians from traffic in crossing to parking decks.

11. Improve signage throughout the airport.

12. Either get rid of those habitually inoperable parking payment machines, or get the vendor to make them work reliably. It is incredibly annoying to have a condescending airport employee standing there either telling me the machine is not working or insulting my intelligence with patently obvious instructions.

13. Improve signage directing to various ground transportation options.

14. Provide a security lane for frequent business travelers who have been pre-cleared with TSA.

JM

February 19th, 2010
2:43 pm

I also never get to the airport more than 45 minutes before my flight and only once missed a flight. To me, that is pretty efficient. Try that a JFK or LAX and you’ll be waiting on the next flight.

Ralph

February 19th, 2010
2:52 pm

also:

15. Provide a cell phone waiting lot for passenger pickups.

16. Work out a better solution for traffic management in curbside passenger dropoffs, and enable curbside baggage check to deal with overweight bags rather than forcing people to wait in another line inside.

17.

Henry

February 19th, 2010
2:59 pm

I fly to and from Europe 4 or 5 times each year. When I return to ATL I can count on an hour to two hour wait before my bag arrives at baggage claim. At CDG or LGW I can usually depend on thirty minutes form touch down to baggage pickup. This includes going through immigration.
When international flights used “T” baggage claim was almost immediate. If the airport management could find another way to move international passengers from “E” to the main terminal it would certainly reduce the time.
As it is; it is easier to make a connection in New York or Boston and take the domestic connection to ATL

Jennifer

February 19th, 2010
3:00 pm

“Also, the ATL security line, while better, is still the most miserable in the country.” Are you joking? Have you ever actually flown before? ATL is an absolute breeze compared to LAX, JFK and more. I haven’t had to wait more than ten minutes in years.

RK

February 19th, 2010
3:03 pm

Henry: yeah, international flights are a different case altogether — having to collect your bag twice is idiotic.

TnGelding

February 19th, 2010
3:05 pm

Road Scholar

February 19th, 2010
8:53 am

They know who we are. The guy that crashed the plane into the IRS building had been on their radar for over 30 years. In short: profile!

Jennifer

February 19th, 2010
3:12 pm

I am a very frequent flier, and I am usually impressed with the efficiency with which ATL operates. Other than CVG, which I think is the gold standard, I haven’t been to an airport that I though was better organized from the traveler’s standpoint. That said, I would echo the others, especially Ralph, in stating:
- the airport needs free wifi.
- there should be more places to charge electronics.
- the police officers and other security agents working the airport are often very rude. I had a very bad experience arriving on an international flight Monday morning with an officer just outside of customs. People do not need to be yelled at and treated like cattle, especially when half of them are visitors arriving in this country. We need to promote tourism and not scare away visitors with rude airport personnel.
- the cell phone lot is a great idea. It works well at LAX, and prevents traffic congestion and pollution caused by people continuously circling the airport in their cars waiting on their pick-up to arrive at the curb.
- the customs and immigration process is tedious, especially as those with checked luggage have to recheck and wait a very long time for bags. I will be very glad if and when the new international terminal is constructed.
- the walk to the shuttle pick up for off-campus parking is long and often very cold. Now that rental car shuttles are a thing of the past, how about moving some of the off-site parking shuttles closer to the building?

For the person who suggested a way to check whether gates had changed after exiting security, there are huge overhead monitors before you get on the train.

Cheryl

February 19th, 2010
3:29 pm

I would like to know who’s bright idea was it to put C-Tran buses, (Clayton County’s Public Transportation System) at the airport?

I have literally seen bus passengers almost get killed trying to cross the pedestrian walk to catch their bus — or passengers leaving the bus trying to catch the MARTA train from the airport.

The pedistrian walk they use is where cars drop off passengers — to incorporate the “two” makes no sense.

Cheryl

February 19th, 2010
3:31 pm

P.S. I am not trying to alienate C-Tran riders, I am just saying that there has to be a safer way and some other location to board and unload passengers.

RK

February 19th, 2010
3:33 pm

Wait, Clayton County doing something dumb? Imagine that.

songbird

February 19th, 2010
3:43 pm

I use the Park n Fly on Conley. They get to me to the airport quickly and their pickup and return is very quick as well. The drivers are pleasant and helpful. Plus you can earn free parking. I never park at the airport anymore.

KEEPING IT REAL

February 19th, 2010
3:43 pm

“AJ” To answer your question, NO… I don’t have friends that work at the airport nor do I work at the airport but I do fly 50 – 75%. And yes I’m defensive about ATL because I live here and I’ve seen airport worse than ATL.

The main terminal / ATRIUM is one of the things I think could improve. They do have a lack of resturants for families to eat just in case of a lay over. I do believe they will add a cell lot once they redo the rental car old locations.

If you travel at least 50% you will find that Atlanta is no where near as bad as other airports. Kansas City might have the quickest security check point I have ever seen in my life. Thats because, every 3 gates has there own TSA security check point. Toronto Canada might be the worst I have ever experienced.

You think the traffic is bad on the concourse, try walking on a concourse when one of the military planes are leaving.

KEEPING IT REAL

February 19th, 2010
3:46 pm

Well you won’t have to worry about C-TRAN riders much longer, they may be ending that bus system. Park N Fly is nice but I got chewed out after filling out $117 parking expense report… Pre-flight or Fasttrack is my new parking location.

A Driver

February 19th, 2010
3:50 pm

First thing that needs to be done is to get rid of all the RACIST art that hangs everywhere and is the first thing seen by everyone

flyer

February 19th, 2010
4:24 pm

Privatize it!

Rob

February 19th, 2010
4:37 pm

I spent more than 30 years working at Hartsfield for one of the largest carriers. Back in the day, real customer service was delivered, now I am embarrased for what travel has become.

I won’t travel by air unless absolutely positively necessary. I will drive my car to my destination just for the sake of it is hassle free.

GPB

February 19th, 2010
4:38 pm

TnGelding, how do you propose to determine who is and isn’t a patriotic citizen? Your response certainly suggests racism as profiling always does. If we merely profile, we will start to lose tourism dollars simply because other nations won’t want to come to a country where they are treated like crap. Tourism is actually a boost to our trade deficit – there has to be better ways.

Free wifi would be nice – Phoenix has it and having a delayed flight was less hassle because of it. More outlets as well would be nice. If they could phase revamping the gates to have more plugs, it would be nice.

Baggage claim can be a hassle. Part of the problem is that I feel that much of the tech in the airport is dated. How does one get to upgrade infrastructure when there are so many flights in and out every day? Certainly a problem but definitely a planning nightmare. It’s not like repaving the connector at night approach as the different systems might be incompatible and you can only accomplish so much in a day.

T, number 1 is a problem because Atlanta is a Delta hub and an international airport. Number 2 is a victim of the lay of the land and the existing infrastructure, not so much flawed. Atlanta really needs another airport – likely something in the northern burbs that covers some other hubs. It could relieve some of the burden on Hartsfield and potentially result in some redesign of the existing facilities. Changing the layout of Hartsfield as well would require an airspace redesign, something that takes too many years because of the courts.

Keeping it real does have some honesty that is correct. A lot of the problems are from people not knowing how to travel properly. Face it, the aviation infrastructure is going to continue to struggle with the continued growth. Getting something the passenger capacity of a 737 landing at smaller airports would be lovely but it takes time and technology. We’re working on it.

Henry, it’s a function of plane size and gate spacing. I doubt anything can be done about that short of upgrading the baggage transportation equipment. But like I said before, when is it ever free to work on?

Until we get a couple of smaller airports in the burbs, we are stuck.

Tony

February 19th, 2010
4:49 pm

How about free Wi-fi?

BoyWonder

February 19th, 2010
5:37 pm

Totally agree with A Driver.
Yeah, we get the message. And so do many of my visitors who comment on it.

The ticket reading machines at the gates are horrible. My favorite two words are now “Please Wait”
Puulease

I haven’t seen one comment about the bums and homeless camped out on the leather couches in the wee hours of the morning. You mean to tell me that the cops can shoo away a car from the curb if they so much as stop for a split second, but they can’t do anything about these parasites?
I doubt it. That imageof those cretins with their hats pulled down over their faces and their shopping carts modified like Nascar racers is disgusting.

Yeah, the cops and security personnel are truly something to behold.
And sadly, it rubs off on all the non-security people like gate agents,m baggage handlers, etc.
We’re all looked at as if we’re criminals.