- JD Power’s 2018 “North America Airline Satisfaction Study” found that overall consumer satisfaction is at an all-time high.
- Airlines did struggle with delivering high-quality in-flight connectivity, the study found.
- Southwest Airlines finished with the highest score both overall and among low-cost airlines.
- Alaska Airlines finished with the third-highest overall score and the highest among traditional airlines.
JD Power released its 2018 “North America Airline Satisfaction Study” on Wednesday. The study, now in its 14th year, found that overall consumer satisfaction with airlines was at an all-time high.
Over the past year, airlines scored 762 points out of a possible 1,000. That’s an increase of six points over the previous year and continues a seven-year upward trend for airline-passenger satisfaction.
“Operationally, it’s never been a better time to fly,” JD Power’s travel practice lead, Michael Taylor, said in a statement. “Passengers perceive greater value in ticket prices, checking in has never been easier, passengers are more satisfied with the actual aircraft, and airlines have improved their baggage-handling performance.”
However, the study found that airlines have struggled mightily in one particular area: in-flight services. More specifically, they have had a hard time delivering trouble-free connectivity for personal devices.
According to Taylor, airlines simply can’t keep pace with technology.
“This is important because passengers are far more likely to have a positive experience with an airline if they are entertained during their flight,” Taylor added.
For 2018, Southwest Airlines finished with the highest score both overall and among low-cost airlines, with 818 points. It’s the second year in a row that Southwest has finished first. JetBlue finished in a close second place, with 812 points.
Alaska Airlines finished with the highest score for a traditional airline, with 775 points. It’s the 11th year Alaska has taken the top spot in its segment.
According to JD Power, Southwest Airlines benefited greatly from its recent investments in new aircraft, while Alaska’s score received a bump for its more spacious overhead bins.
The low-cost carriers in the study include Southwest, JetBlue, WestJet, Allegiant Air, and Frontier Airlines. The traditional carriers were Alaska, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, American Airlines, and United Airlines.
Overall customer satisfaction with low-cost airlines tended to be a bit higher than with the traditional carriers. The average score for a low-cost carrier was 799 points, while the traditional airlines received an average score of 741 points.
Airlines in the study are judged on performance in seven categories. In order of importance, they are cost and fees; in-flight services; aircraft; boarding, deplaning, and baggage; flight crew; check-in; and reservations.
The JD Power study is based on data gathered from 11,508 business or leisure passengers who flew on major US and Canadian airlines between March 2017 and March 2018. Mexican and Central American airlines were not included in the study, nor were Spirit Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, or Sun Country Airlines.
Here’s a closer look at JD Power’s 2018 “North America Airline Satisfaction Study.”
10. Frontier Airlines: 693 points.
9. United Airlines: 708 points.
8. Allegiant Air: 725 points.
7. American Airlines: 729 points.
6. Air Canada: 734 points.
5. WestJet: 747 points.
4. Delta Air Lines: 767 points.
3. Alaska Airlines: 775 points.
2. JetBlue Airways: 812 points.
1. Southwest Airlines: 818 points.
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