Aerospace & Defense

JD Power: United Airlines Last in Customer Satisfaction


Product and services research firm J.D. Power published its customer satisfaction rankings of North American airlines Wednesday morning, and the names at the top and bottom of the list haven’t changed. United Continental Holdings Inc.’s (NYSE: UAL) United Airlines ranked last among legacy airlines with a customer satisfaction score of 675 out of a possible 1,000 points. At the top of the list was low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) with a score of 790.

Overall satisfaction with North American carriers rose nine points to 726, the highest score recorded by J.D. Power since 2006. Satisfaction with legacy carriers like United, Delta Air Lines Co. (NYSE: DAL) and American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL) rose by 12 points to 703 and satisfaction with low-cost carriers like JetBlue and Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) rose by nine points to 775.

Passengers have grown more used to paying the extra fees airlines charge for checked bags and myriad other items. Lower fares due primarily to lower fuel costs probably have a lot to do with this. Still, customer satisfaction with costs and fees rose by 12 points year over year to 658.

J.D. Power’s Rich Garlick said:

While the perception of the airline experience still has a lot of room for improvement, there is notable progress in terms of satisfaction among the highest-ranked airlines in the study due to their keen focus on meeting or exceeding passenger needs. The airlines are clearly listening to their passengers and are taking action. … Airlines are making positive strides by adding value to its products and services with newer and cleaner planes, better in-flight services, improving on-time arrivals and bumping fewer passengers from their flights.

Customer satisfaction scores averaged 703 among legacy carriers and 775 among low-cost carriers. That wide disparity indicates that low fares are still number one in the hearts of passengers.

Here are the legacy carriers included in the survey and their scores:

  • Alaska Airlines: 751
  • Delta Air Lines: 725
  • American Airlines/US Airways: 693
  • Air Canada: 681
  • United Airlines: 675

Here are the rankings for low-cost carriers:

  • JetBlue Airways: 790
  • Southwest Airlines: 789
  • WestJet: 723
  • Frontier Airlines: 662

The 2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study measures passenger satisfaction among both business and leisure travelers of major carriers in North America. The study is based on responses from 10,348 passengers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2015 and March 2016. The study was fielded between April 2015 and March 2016.

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