US Best and Worst Carriers

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study was released on June 13 showing satisfaction with US  and Canadian airlines declined slightly from the previous year . This survey run  by  J.D. Power and Associates 2012 involves more than 13,500 passengers giving their input between May 2011 and April 2012. Power scores airlines out of 1000 points with points being awarded for  seven factors in this order of importance:

  1. Cost and fees
  2. In-flight services;
  3. Boarding/deplaning/baggage;
  4.  Flight crew;
  5. Aircraft;
  6. Check-in;
  7. Reservations,

Overall North American airlines rated 681 points down from 683 in 2011.

Low cost carriers (average score 754 up 3) performed better than traditional carriers (average score 674 down 4 points).


A few interesting points emerged from the survey:

  • JetBlue were number onewith 776 points. This was their seventh time in number one place.
  • Delta Air Lines was the only traditional carrier to improve from 2011, jumping by 9 index points. I concur with this
  • 34 per cent of customers now check in online.
  • Overall satisfaction with the check-in process is highest when passengers check in using a mobile device (845), compared with curbside (840) and using a traditional computer/laptop (825).
  • Check in satisfaction is much lower when using a kiosk (793); or the main counter (778)
  • Passengers who paid to check bags had an average satisfaction score 85 points lower than other passengers. Looks like airlines have a long way to go for passengers to accept they have to pay for what was a given. My thinking is one bag free and then charge.
  • While the cost and fees factor is important, more than 70 percent of passenger satisfaction is driven by other parts of the overall experience.
  •  Attributes pertaining to a carrier’s process and people, rather than price, are more highly correlated with passengers’ intentions to fly with an airline again in the future.
  • There is a major gap between United and Continental which have now merged. It will be interesting to see in 2013 what the result is for the combined airline. We may also see AirTran vanish from the rankings as Southwest absorb them.

This table lists the airlines in the order of their overall Power Rating. I also note where a particular area stands out. I have also listed my own scores for the airlines.

Place Airline Rating Customers liked Disliked My Score My Ranking
1 JetBlue 776 Aircraft Boarding 97% 1
2  Southwest 770 Aircraft, On Board service 91% 5
3 WestJet 733 Staff Experience ?
4 AirTran 698 On Board Service 92% 4
5 Frontier . 694 On Board Service 95% 2
6 Alaska Airlines 678 88% 6
7 Air Canada’ 677 Cost and fees Reservations 80% 8
8 Delta 659 Aircraft 82% 7
9 Continental 649 94% 3
10 American 647 60% 11
11 United 625 On Board Service 70% 9
12 US 614 Reservations 66% 10

I also rank JetBlue as the best. For me Virgin America are an equal first. I put Frontier and Continental a lot higher than  survey respondents and Southwest I give fifth place while survey respondents gave them second place. I rank AirTran slightly above merger partner Southwest while the surveyed public had Southwest ahead.  AirTran have been great to me (with one exception) and I am sad to see them go. American, United and US are consistently my least favoured carriers. Power respondents also gave them the three lowest votes. I have never flown Westjet.


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  1. […] I wondered as I walked away:  ”Did she mean me personally?” – i.e do I have an American airlines profile that is marked with all of my negative American Airlines blog posts??   (For example: Buenos Aires- USA ) OR did she mean in general, the overall passenger dissatisfaction with AA?” […]

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