Airline satisfaction at three-year high

An American Airlines aircraft takes off from the Miami International Airport in Miami.

by Jeff Horwich

Although this summer is expected to be full of jam-packed flights, rising fares and weather delays, a survey says airline satisfaction is up to its highest point in three years.

Wait a minute: We're supposed to hate air travel. They took away our free food. We're paying to check bags. And the planes are so packed some of us actually have to fly in the middle seat sometimes.

Andrew Thomas, marketing and business professor at the University of Akron, says not to worry, air travel is still miserable. It's just that we're finally used to it. "There's been an alignment with the industry and most importantly with their customers, the flying public, that this really is traveling by bus except in the air."

The JD Power survey says satisfaction improved marginally from last year, and not just because the airlines have broken our will. Brett Snyder of CrankyFlier.com says the flip side to crowded flights is that there are fewer of them. "The flights that are still there are going to be running more on time. Also fewer people in the airports for that matter as well."

And about those bag fees: Snyder says the survey results suggest we haven't entirely given in. The airlines passengers like most, JetBlue and Southwest, are two of the few that still let you check that first bag for free.

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