The AP reports that a University of Michigan survey shows airline customer satisfaction at seven major airlines rose 3.2 percent earlier this year, the first such increase in six years. Of course, this should surprise no one, considering fewer people are flying and airlines have cut flights, which makes it easier for airlines to lavish good service upon their passengers (plus, this isn't the first time we've seen this theory in action).
But the report also shows that fees have played a big part in improving the customer experience, especially in the baggage area. It's ironic, of course, that fees would improve customer satisfaction, but at $15 a pop, fewer people are checking bags, making it easier for airlines to manage the bags that are checked.
But what you really want to know is who came out on top in the survey, right? OK, on a scale of 100, Southwest was tops with 81, followed by Continental at 68, Delta at 64, American at 60, US Airways at 59, Northwest at 57, and United at 56. Other popular carriers such as JetBlue and AirTran were not included.
From that group of seven, many airline posted increases over last year. Continental's score rose 9.7 percent, while US Airways' score went up 9.3 percent. United's score was unchanged from last year, and American's went down.
But while an improvement is good, and more than welcome, the report is quick to point out that the airline industry still has a ways to go: "High fuel price volatility, indifferent service, labor problems, congested airports and financial challenges have plagued the industry for a long time and even with the current improvement, airlines remain one of the lowest scoring businesses."
Readers, what do you think? Is airline customer service on an upward trend, or is it the same old story? Leave a comment below with your opinion.