Canada's 'best' mega airport ranks near bottom of North American list

Air Canada plane in Pearson International Airport with the Control Tower in the background. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A new study measuring satisfaction with airports across North America found travellers are quite unsatisfied with many in Canada.

The report, conducted by J.D. Power, divides North American airports into three categories by size – mega, large and medium. Then, travellers rate the airports based on six factors: terminal facilities, airport accessibility, baggage claim, security check, check-in/baggage check, and dining and retail options.

In the mega category, Toronto Pearson International Airport ranked relatively low, 14th out of 19, with a score of 745 out of 1,000 points.

In the large category, Vancouver’s airport was ranked the highest out of all Canadian airports. It came in 6th out of 28, with a score of 801 out of 1,000 points.

Here is a breakdown of how other Canadian airports did in the study:

  • Also in the large category, Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport ranked 20th out of 28, with a score of 750 out of 1,000 points.

  • Calgary International Airport faired better than Montreal’s airport, ranking 17 out of 28, with a score of 765 out of 1,000 points in the large category.

  • In the medium category, Ottawa’s international airport is ranked 12th out of 17, with a score of 780 out of 1,000 points.

  • Edmonton International Airport is 13th out of 17, with a score of 779 out of 1,000 points in the medium category.

Why do some airports rank better than others?

The higher-ranked mega airports, such as Detroit Metropolitan and Minneapolis-Saint Paul in the U.S., have newer facilities that accommodate a high volume of travellers, and more food and beverage offerings.

Some airports ranked low due to construction causing delays, which affects a passenger’s entire travel experience.

“There are big construction projects happening in major cities,” Mike Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power said in a statement. “While necessary, they are causing delays, and this affects the entire experience – from the actual process of moving through an airport to how travellers spend their money.”

You don’t have to search hard on Twitter to find people complaining about their experiences travelling through Canadian airports.

Meghan Patrick, a Canadian country singer, said Toronto has the “WORST airport” she’s ever been to.

The airports in the mega category accommodate 33 million or more passengers per year, large airports have 10 to 32.9 million passengers and medium airports have 4.5 to 9.9 million passengers per year.

The study, conducted between October 2018 and September 2019, is based on responses from over 32,000 Canadian and U.S. residents who flew through at least one U.S. or Canadian airport.