Passenger satisfaction was up 2.9 percent for airlines, historically one of the lowest-scoring categories tracked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)
The ACSI reported Monday that airlines reached the benchmark of 71 on a scale of 0 to 100 for 2015 — near the category’s peak score of 72 set in 1994.
However, airlines overall are still near the bottom of businesses and services that consumers deal with on a regular basis. Airlines are among ACSI’s bottom four categories, ahead of only Internet service providers, subscription television and health insurance.
Nonetheless, travelers gave the airline industry higher marks compared with a year ago in the areas of booking and flight experience, including arriving on time and fewer mishaps with baggage.
“Airlines are doing a better job of getting travelers to their destinations on time, with less frustration over baggage,” says ACSI Director David VanAmburg. “ACSI findings show that timeliness and baggage handling have improved, which is in-line with Department of Transportation data on reductions in both flight delays and baggage mishandling over the past year.”
The airline traveling experience still lags in the area of seat comfort, which remains the worst part of flying (ACSI benchmark of 65). Passengers are happier with in-flight services such as entertainment options, up 7 percent to 72, but there is still room for improvement.
Low-cost carrier JetBlue, remains No. 1 in customer satisfaction, up 3 percent to top the field at 81, increasing its lead over rival Southwest. JetBlue has been No. 1 for passenger satisfaction since 2012. But the airline’s plans to start charging for bags and reduce legroom may make it difficult for JetBlue to keep its title, ACSI says.
Southwest is flat at 78, but still maintains an edge over the remainder of the field. ACSI newcomer Alaska Airlines debuts at 75, ahead of three other ACSI entrants: Allegiant Air (65), Frontier Airlines (58) and Spirit Airlines (54). The major legacy carriers also are unchanged from last year, with Delta (71) holding an advantage over American (66) and United (60).