Surveys / Satisfaction News 6/17/12

Survey Names Passengers’ Most (And Least) Favorite Airlines

Market research company J.D. Power & Associates is out with its annual ranking of consumer satisfaction with North American air carriers. The survey ranks Alaska Airlines highest among traditional airlines, while JetBlue tops the list of low-cost carriers. US Airways and Frontier Airlines are at the bottom respectively.

The survey looked at seven factors, weighted by importance to travelers: price (ticket cost and additional fees); in-flight services; boarding, deplaning and baggage handling; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservations.

There’s good news and bad news for the airlines. The good news first: J.D. Power’s Jessica McGregor says “We’ve noticed this year that airlines are delivering on the basics,” citing statistics for on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, denied boarding and customer complaints, published by the US Department of Transportation. “It’s the best performance in the last 22 years.”

The bad news is for “traditional network” airlines, mostly legacy carriers with a hub-and-spoke route system (Air Canada, Alaska, American, Continental – since merged with United – Delta, United and US Airways). Their ratings continue to slip relative to the other segment, low-cost airlines (AirTran, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and WestJet). To be considered for the survey, airlines had to have at least $1 billion in annual passenger revenue and serve at least 40 airports in the US and Canada.

The only airline to significantly rise in the rankings was Delta, which improved in all seven categories to third place among the traditional airlines.

What can the airlines do to improve their rankings? McGregor says, “They’re already delivering on the basics, so customer satisfaction means going beyond that.” She recommends making improvements in technology such as wi-fi on board and mobile boarding passes. Flight crew friendliness is also a big factor in customer satisfaction. “These are the two things that those that are successful do well,” she says.

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