Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Airline Satisfaction Hits All-Time High - Still Trails Rental Cars, Mortgage Lenders

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Airline Satisfaction Hits All-Time High - Still Trails Rental Cars, Mortgage Lenders

Article excerpt

At first glance, 2014 thus far has been a lousy year to fly, with terrible winter forcing flight cancellations and stranded travelers across the country. Passengers, however, aren't blaming the airlines.

Customer happiness with airline carriers reached an all-time high over the past year, according to the 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, released annually by J.D. Power and Associates. But the celebration should be tempered: Despite steady improvements, air travel still trails several other industries in satisfaction ratings, including hotels, rental cars, and even credit card companies and mortgage lenders.

The least surprising part of the study was the air carriers customers love the most. Alaska Airlines topped the satisfaction rankings for "traditional airlines" for the seventh consecutive year, scoring 737 points out of a possible 1,000 and improving 20 points over its 2013 score. Delta Air Lines came in second, with 693 points, and American Airlines ranked third, with 684.

Among low-cost carriers, JetBlue came out on top for the ninth straight year, despite being affected far more than other airlines by the severity of this past winter. Southwest Airlines came in second.

The worst-performing carriers were US Airways with 656 points (traditional) and Frontier Airlines with 676 (low-cost).

The study, which tracked survey responses from 11,370 passengers between April 2013 and March 2014, evaluates airlines and the industry overall based on seven categories: cost and fees, in- flight services, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, aircraft, check-in, and reservation. On a scale of 1,000, the airline industry in the United States and Canada scored a 712 - a 17-point increase from 2013.

Much of the improvement came from the "cost and fees" category, which improved to 642 in 2014 from 618 in 2013. …

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