Alaska Air and JetBlue Top Airline Ratings

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The results of the new J.D. Power Airline Satisfaction Survey were not a surprise. The two winners have been at the top of their categories for several years. Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) was the top traditional carrier for the seventh year in a row. JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) was the top discount carrier for the ninth year.

The airline industry has never posted strong customer satisfaction numbers. That has not changed recently. In the J.D. Power 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study:

At a time when the cost to fly is rising due to airline consolidation, fuel costs, additional taxes and fees, and new efforts by airlines to increase revenue, overall passenger satisfaction with airlines is at a record high of 712 (on a 1,000-point scale), a 17-point increase from 2013. Satisfaction with cost and fees, which has the greatest impact on overall satisfaction, improves to 642 in 2014 from 618 in 2013.

“It isn’t that passengers are satisfied with fees, it’s that they are simply less dissatisfied because they realize that fees have become a way of life with air travel,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “Passengers are over the sticker shock of being charged more to fly, having to pay for checked bags, expedited security clearance, or for preferred seating.”

Alaska Airlines posted a rating of 737 and did well across all seven categories J.D. Power uses for its evaluation. Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) was next at 693. Newly formed American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) posted a score of 684.

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Among low-cost carriers, JetBlue posted a 789 rating.

United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) did poorly among traditional carriers with a 658 rating. Frontier Airlines held the bottom spot among low-cost carriers at 676.

Methodology: The 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study measures passenger satisfaction among both business and leisure passengers of major carriers in North America. The study is based on responses from 11,370 passengers who flew on a major North America airline between March 2013 and March 2014. The study was fielded between April 2013 and March 2014.

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