J.D. Power & Associates 2013 released its North America Airline Satisfaction Study. U.S. Airways Group Inc. (NYSE: LCC) was at the bottom of the list. United, of United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) was second worst, barely edging out American Airlines in the third lowest spot among the worst traditional carriers. US Air may find its problem compounded when it mergers with American. The complexity and complications which accompany airline mergers nearly always damage customers service.
Among low-budget carriers, the bottom based on customer satisfaction was AirTran Airways followed closely by Frontier Air.
Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK) ranks highest in the traditional carrier segment for a sixth consecutive year, with an index score of 717. Alaska Airlines, which improves by 39 points from 2012 — the largest improvement among all carriers ranked in the study — performs particularly well in six of the seven factors: cost & fees; boarding/deplaning/baggage; aircraft; flight crew; check-in; and reservation.
Delta Air Lines moves up one rank position to second with a score of 682, improving by 23 points from 2012, with significant gains across all seven factors. Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines each improve significantly and perform well among traditional carriers in flight crew. Ranking third, Air Canada declines by six points to 671.
JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) ranks highest among low-cost carriers for an eighth consecutive year, with a score of 787. This also marks the ninth consecutive year JetBlue has ranked highest in the study. JetBlue, which improves by 11 index points on a year-over-year basis, performs particularly well in in-flight services and aircraft. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV), which improves in all of the factors except cost & fees, ranks second at 770, which remains on par with 2012.
There has never been any solid evidence that customer satisfaction ratings actually affect the flying habits of travelers. However, that may be because as the number of carriers shrinks, so do the options to select alternatives.