July 05, 2012
--- Most of us want the same things when we
fly: a hassle-free experience, pleasant interactions with ground and air crew,
and please, first bag free! ---
Low-cost carriers continue to lead in improving passenger
satisfaction, while traditional carriers still struggle to meet travelers'
expectations, a survey found.
JetBlue Airlines again takes top
rankings in terms of airline customer satisfaction, followed closely by Alaska
Airlines, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 North America
Airline Satisfaction Study.
Meanwhile, traditional airlines, such Delta,
Continental and American Airlines, are losing customer service altitude. Although satisfaction with low-cost carriers
improves for the third straight year (increasing three index points from 2011
to an average 754 on a 1,000-point scale), satisfaction with traditional
carriers declines four points, to 647.
want it all, but they are not necessarily willing to pay for it all,” said Stuart
Greif, vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality
practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Carriers often must make decisions for
financial reasons that they know will negatively impact passenger satisfaction,
and therein lies the conundrum."
After two years
of consecutive industry improvements, overall passenger satisfaction has
declined slightly, to 681 index points, down from 683 in 2011, according to the
The study measures customer satisfaction in
seven categories: cost and fees; in-flight services; boarding, deplaning and baggage;
flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservations.
Costs and fees continue to play a key role. Checked baggage fees are a customer
sore point and have a notable impact, with satisfaction averaging 85 points
lower among passengers who pay to check bags. For example, two carriers with
the highest satisfaction scores in the study—JetBlue Airways and Southwest
Airlines—do not charge passengers to check the first bag. Additionally, Air
Canada, which also does not charge for the first bag, performs particularly
well among the traditional network carriers in the cost and fees factor.