Customers satisfaction with North America's airline industry is at a 10-year high, and Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways are two of the best-rated carriers, according to a new survey from J.D. Power and Associates.
J.D. Power released its annual North America Airline Satisfaction Study on Wednesday and the online survey of more than 10,000 recent passengers on North American airlines ranked Alaska Airlines as the best-rated traditional carrier for the ninth year in a row. The carrier, which is owned by the Alaska Air Group (alk), saw its overall satisfaction score rise more than 30 points to 751 (out of 1,000 possible points) after passengers rated all North American carriers based on factors that include cost and fees, in-flight services, aircraft conditions, and the check-in and reservation processes.
JetBlue Airways (jblu) took the top spot J.D. Power's ranking of low-cost carriers, outpacing its competitors in that space for the 11th consecutive year. Southwest Airlines (luv) finished second in the low-cost category, with 789 points to JetBlue's 790. Delta Air Lines (dal) ranked behind Alaska Airlines in the ranking of traditional carriers with 725 points.
Meanwhile, J.D. Power said that overall customer satisfaction with North American airlines hit a 10-year high in the latest survey, rising 9 points to 726. (The survey's current methodology dates back to 2006.) Passengers' satisfaction with airlines' costs and fees jumped in the most recent survey, which weighs that area more heavily than any of the seven factors that go into the index. According to J.D. Power, satisfaction with costs and fees jumped by 12 points, to 658, in the latest survey, thanks to lower industry fares as well as passengers becoming more tolerant of paying ancillary costs such as baggage fees. Satisfaction with in-flight services also increased by 12 points this year, with passengers appreciating improved in-flight entertainment options.
"Airlines are making positive strides by adding value to products and services with newer and cleaner planes, better in-flight services, improving on-time arrivals and bumping fewer passengers from their flights," Rick Garlick, J.D. Power's global travel and hospitality practice lead, said in a statement. "For airlines ranking below the study average, investing in product and service improvements now may reap big rewards in the future when it comes to retention, reputation and share of wallet."
Alaska Airlines is likely used to topping J.D. Power's rankings by now, but the carrier also recently added another well-rated carrier to its portfolio. Last month, Alaska Airlines said it would buy Virgin America for $2.3 billion—an announcement that closely followed the news that Virgin America again took top honors in the industry's Airline Quality Rating, which is a joint project of Wichita State and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.