Alaska Airlines and JetBlue have come out on top of this year’s J.D. Power and Associates 2012 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, which was released today.
The highly regarded study found that after two years of consecutive industry improvements, overall passenger satisfaction has declined slightly (to 681 index points on a 1,000-point scale—down from 683 in 2011) and that “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.”
Travelers reported increased satisfaction with so-called low-cost carriers for the third consecutive year (up 3 index points from 2011 to a 754 average), but satisfaction with traditional carriers was down (the decline was 4 points, to 647).
“Passengers want it all,” Stuart Greif, J.D. Power’s vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice, said in a statement. “The airline industry is caught between trying to satisfy customers who demand low prices, high-quality service and comfort, and contending with the economic challenges of profitably operating an airline.”
In the traditional network carrier rankings, Alaska Airlines ranks highest overall for the fifth consecutive year, performing well in four of the seven factors: boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; check-in; and reservation. Air Canada was just just 1 index point behind Alaska Airlines in this segment, with high rankings in the cost and fees, in-flight services and aircraft factors.
Delta Air Lines moved up two rank positions to third and was the only traditional carrier to improve from 2011, by 9 index points.
In the low-cost carrier rankings, JetBlue Airways ranked highest for a seventh consecutive year, performing well in the in-flight services and aircraft categories. JetBlue was followed closely by Southwest, which performed well in four factors: cost and fees; boarding/deplaning/baggage; check-in; and reservation. Neither airline charges a fee (yet) for a passenger’s first checked bag.
The study measures overall customer satisfaction based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost and fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservation.
You can read more details here.