J.D. Power and Associates released its 2010 annual airline rankings, and the list is dominated by some familiar faces. For the third straight year, Alaska Airlines took top honors in the traditional network category, while JetBlue won the low-cost carrier category for the fifth straight year.
J.D. Power said Alaska “performs particularly well in six of [our] seven measures: flight crew; aircraft; boarding/deplaning/baggage; check-in; cost and fees; and reservation.” JetBlue also performed well in a number of categories, notably aircraft and in-flight experience.
More generally, J.D. Power said that overall customer satisfaction rose for the first time in three years. 10 of the 12 airlines ranked improved their scores from last year. J.D. Power explains that this is likely a side effect of economic conditions. “With fewer passengers traveling and fewer flights in the air, on-time performance has improved. As more airlines charge fees for checking bags, fewer passengers are choosing to do so, thus reducing the number of baggage issues and complaints. The study findings also suggest that while passengers may dislike add-on fees, they are gradually starting to accept them. In turn, those fees may be having a less pronounced impact on satisfaction as passengers recalibrate their expectations.”
Some other fun facts from the annual report:
- “Overall, among customers who are assigned to a middle seat, satisfaction averages 16 points lower than among customers in a window or aisle seat. This impact is magnified among members of frequent flyer programs of traditional network carriers, as satisfaction among these passengers falls to 20 points below the segment average. In comparison, among non-members of frequent flyer programs who are assigned to a middle seat, satisfaction decreases to just two points below the segment average.”
- “Among passengers of traditional network carriers, 65 percent indicate that complimentary meals is the in-flight amenity they would most like to have. Approximately 56 percent of passengers of low-cost carriers say the same.”
- “Nearly one-half of passengers say that prices for in-flight beverages and food; checked baggage; and preferred seating are unreasonably high.”
- “On average, three in five airline passengers check baggage. Satisfaction with boarding, deplaning, and baggage averages nearly 60 points higher among passengers who are not charged for the first checked bag, compared with those who are charged for the first bag (765 vs. 702, respectively).”
Readers, what do you think about J.D. Power’s findings this year? Do they mesh with your feelings about airlines and the airline industry?