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O’Hare no longer among top 100 airports for customer satisfaction

Crowds of passengers wait in line at the O'Hare United terminal on September 26, 2014. File Photo | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

Only a few months after losing its title as busiest U.S. airport, O’Hare International is no longer among the top 100 airports in the world in customer satisfaction, survey results showed Monday.

O’Hare dipped from number 92 worldwide last year to somewhere beyond the 100th rank this year among 500 airports rated in Skytrax’s annual World Airport Awards.

Tops worldwide was the Singapore Changi Airport.

The airport rankings are often known as the “Passengers Choice Awards” and are based on the “largest, annual global airport customer satisfaction survey,’’ according to Skytrax website.

To produce its rankings, Skytrax analyzed 13.25 million airport surveys completed between June 2015 and February 2016.

Customer reviews currently posted

on Skytrax’s website give O’Hare is lowest marks in “queuing times.’’ Beefs about rude employees, cleanliness and sporadic WiFi also are reflected.

“The entirety of the airport is outdated, dirty, the employees all have an attitude as though they are owed something, and your [sic] treated like a criminal until you have proven that your [sic] not,’’ wrote one Dec. 20th Skytrax passenger through O’Hare.

“The services, staff, lines, even the terminals themselves seem worn out and tired,’’ wrote a July 18 O’Hare traveler. ”I was delayed, cancelled and delayed again while waiting to pass through on a connector home.”

To be fair, some reviewers had more positive experiences. Wrote one January 2016 Terminal 3 traveler: “This is a great airport to fly out of.”

O’Hare’s drop in worldwide customer satisfaction rankings for quality comes as O’Hare last year dipped in a key measure of quantity.

O’Hare in 2015 fell back to second place as the nation’s busiest airport in total operations. It was bested by Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Federal data released Jan. 21 showed that O’Hare’s 2015 total flights fell to 875,136 — down 0.8 percent. Meanwhile, Hartsfield-Jackson saw a 1.6 percent increase in 2015 operations.

At least 13 other U.S. airports outranked O’Hare in Skytrax’ 2016 customer satisfaction survey. That included among the top 50 worldwide: No. 28 Denver; No. 32 Cincinnati/Kentucky; No. 37 San Francisco and No. 43 Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson.

The highest-ranked U.S. airport — in Denver — was built while Chicago Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans served there as associate director of aviation and chief of new airport construction from 1986 to 1994.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who tapped Evans as aviation commissioner last spring, recently unveiled a $1.3 billion plan

to build a sixth east-west parallel runway at O’Hare, to add de-icing pads and to construct a cross-field taxiway as part of an ongoing $8.7 billion attempt to reduce delays and increase capacity.

Aviation officials say the deal will eventually “pave the way” for future improvements that will allow O’Hare to modernize its terminals. In addition, they recently announced an agreement with American Airlines to add five gates.

However, the ongoing airfield work and the big switch in flight paths it has caused helped O’Hare garner more jet noise complaints and complainants among the nation’s 10 busiest airports — by a landslide, a Chicago Sun-Times/Better Government Association investigation showed last year.

The Chicago Department of Aviation is “committed to making O’Hare not just the busiest but the best airport in the world,” Aviation Department spokesman Owen Kilmer said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “We will continue to make important investments for the thousands of travelers who depend on O’Hare each day.”