News In Brief

Improvement in passenger satisfaction with North American airlines

Daryl Paranada Jun 8, 2010

A new survey from J.D. Power and Associates shows that overall customer satisfaction with airlines serving North America improved last year after three consecutive years of decline. Read our report on why satisfaction is up even though air travel can still be a drag here.

The 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study found that on a 1,000-point scale, overall customer satisfaction improved to 673 points. That’s up 15 points from 2009, but 19 points below airlines’ score in 2006.

JetBlue ranked first among low-cost airlines for the fifth consecutive year, while Alaska Airlines ranked highest for the third consecutive year among network airlines. A full list is posted below.

The company surveyed more than 12,300 passengers who flew on major North American airlines from April 2009 to April 2010. The company measured satisfaction based on the following categories (listed in order of importance): fare and fees, flight crews, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding, deplaning and baggage, check-in, and reservations.

Other key findings from the survey, courtesy of USA Today:

  • Members of the traditional airlines’ frequent-flier programs have lower satisfaction scores than non-members. That’s opposite the view of those in the frequent-flier programs of low-cost airlines: They have higher satisfaction than non-members.
  • Passengers stuck in the middle seat are less satisfied — by an average of 16 points — than passengers in a window or aisle seat.
  • Satisfaction with boarding, deplaning and baggage handling averages nearly 60 points higher among passengers who aren’t charged for checking their first bag than for those who are.
  • Nearly half of passengers surveyed say prices for in-flight food and beverages, checked bags and preferred seating are “unreasonably high.” Among passengers of traditional network airlines, 65% say free meals are the most desired in-flight amenity.

Among traditional, network carriers, the rankings are:

  1. Alaska Airlines – 699
  2. Continental Airlines – 672
  3. American Airlines – 642
  4. Delta Airlines – 640
  5. Air Canada – 636
  6. United Airlines – 630
  7. U.S. Airways – 613

Among low-cost carriers:

  1. JetBlue Airways – 764
  2. Southwest Airlines – 742
  3. WestJet – 740
  4. AirTrain Airways – 704
  5. Frontier Airlines – 688

Are you satisfied with North American airlines? Follow our airline industry coverage here.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.