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Southwest, Alaska Lead in Customer-Experience Ratings

Alaska and Southwest offer the best customer service among the nine largest domestic airlines. And US Airways is at the bottom of the list. So says the latest Experience Ratings from Temkin, a consulting firm that specializes in reserach on customer experience.

According to the AP, the ratings are based on a composite rating of three factors: "functional (can customers do what they want to do), accessible (how easy it is to work with the company), and emotional (how consumers feel about their interactions)."

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It's easy to overestimate the accuracy of results like these. The scores of the top five—Alaska, Southwest, AirTran, JetBlue, and Delta—range from 68 percent to 63 percent. Given the overall lack of precision in the base measures, I'd say that these five airlines are in a virtual tie.

Similarly, the next three carriers—Continental, United, and American—are also in a virtual tie, with scores between 54 percent and 57 percent. That leaves US Airways, at 45 percent, as the undisputed last-place finisher. In fact, it seems to be the lowest-scoring company among all the industries measured by Temkin.

All in all, these scores are generally consistent with other survey and rating results. All I can add are two comments: Given that American and US Airways were the two worst-rated airlines, the merged airline will have a tough job ahead to improve customer service. And had "frequent flyer" been added as a measure, Delta would have joined US Airways at the bottom.

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