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Airlines with the best and worst customer satisfaction according to JD Power

  • Analyst firm JD Power has unveiled its annual ranking of the best and worst airlines in terms of customer satisfaction.
  • JetBlue Airways took first place for its Mint and Even More Space business class seats.
  • Southwest Airlines has the best economy product, while American Airlines ranks low in all categories.

New research finds JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines top carriers for customer satisfaction.

Analyst firm JD Power, which has tracked airline performance since 1993, has released its Annual North American Airline Passenger Satisfaction Survey in May, revealing airline rankings based on passenger feedback.

The company surveyed 7,004 people from March 2021 to March 2022 and analyzed carriers based on eight parameters: aircraft, baggage, boarding, check-in, cost and fees, flight crew, in-flight services and booking.

Unlike previous yearsJD Power took the study a step further and broke the data down by fare class, including first/business, premium economy and basic economy/economy, to better gauge passenger expectations.

“We did this to align with how consumers buy tickets,” Michael Taylor, head of travel intelligence at JD Power, told Forbes. “Each class of seat comes with certain service and price expectations and JD Power wanted to gather information about what is important to passengers in each class of seat.”

The results show that JetBlue Airways is the leading carrier. The company took the top spot for its Mint business class product and its premium economy class, counting its seats with more legroom as a premium cabin. American Airlines comes first for first/business, while Air Canada is last for premium economy.

With 11 carriers ranked in the economy/basic economy category, Southwest Airlines beat out JetBlue for the highest title. Southwest recently announcement a $2 billion investment in customer experience, including the addition of power in the seats of its aircraft.

Ultra-low-cost carrier Allegiant Air scored high for its economy product, ranking fourth behind Southwest, JetBlue and Delta. The airline beat major carriers like Alaska and United.

At the bottom of the economy list are Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet, Frontier Airlines and American. Spirit Airlines ranked eighth out of 11, but its slim seats and pay-per-view business model still beat the former US carrier.

While the study is good news for JetBlue and Southwest, which were both named America’s worst airlines by The Wall Street Journal and WalletHub, respectively, JD Power reports that overall customer satisfaction is down more than 20 points from last year.

According to Taylor, the change can be attributed to COVID-19 when passenger satisfaction increased due to pandemic-era policies that made travel easier, such as no middle seats and empty airports. However, he said in a press release “the business model just wasn’t sustainable.”

Still, he said the data is “not really bad news” as people are ready to deal with the frustration and challenges imposed by rising demand if that means taking a vacation, and the drop indicates that travel back to pre-pandemic levels, which is good for airlines.

“The reasons satisfaction was up last year were for all the wrong reasons,” Taylor told Business Travel News. “This year, [the score] is down for the right reasons.”

According to the study, the main areas of dissatisfaction were the in-flight catering service and the plane tickets. JD Power found that suspending alcohol in premium classes lowered satisfaction; however, economy cabins were happy with their offerings, with satisfaction actually increasing this year.

Rising ticket prices were also found to be a major factor in lower satisfaction scores this year, according to the data. Through March 2022, JD Power said air fares increased by 20%, leading to lower customer satisfaction with costs and charges in each cabin.

Despite the drop, Taylor said in the press release that “if airlines can find ways to manage these growing volumes while making some small adjustments to help passengers feel more valued, they should be able to manage this return to “normal”.

Here are the airlines with the best and worst customer satisfaction.

First/Business

  1. Jet Blue Airways
  2. Alaska Airlines
  3. Delta Airlines
  4. Air Canada
  5. United Airlines
  6. American airlines

Economy of the best quality

  1. Jet Blue Airways
  2. Delta Airlines
  3. Alaska Airlines
  4. American airlines
  5. United Airlines
  6. Air Canada

Economy/Basic Economy

  1. South West Airlines
  2. Jet Blue Airways
  3. Delta Airlines
  4. Air Allegiant
  5. Alaska Airlines
  6. Air Canada
  7. United Airlines
  8. Spirit Airlines
  9. American airlines
  10. Border airlines
  11. WestJet