Passengers are unhappy as airlines get back to post-pandemic schedules

May 11, 2022, 3:22 PM UTC

After two years of being stuck at home, Americans are taking to the skies once more. And it’s even worse than they remember.

The new J.D. Power survey of airline passenger satisfaction is out, and regardless of whether they’re flying coach, economy, or first class, people are not happy.

Overall passenger satisfaction is 798 out of 1,000, down more than 20 points from a year ago, according to the survey.

The reasons were multifold. Passengers expressed dissatisfaction with the flight crews and aircraft—and the ongoing suspension of alcohol service in premium classes was a big sore point. But the biggest pain point for flyers was the cost, which has increased 20% so far this year. Overall satisfaction with cost and fees fell 66 points for premium economy passengers, 33 points for economy passengers, and 21 points for first and business class passengers.

“Customer satisfaction with North American airlines climbed to unprecedented highs for all of the wrong reasons during the past two years,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. “Fewer passengers meant more space on airplanes, less waiting in line, and more attention from flight attendants. But that business model was simply not sustainable. Now, with volumes surging and some remnants of pandemic-era constraints still in place, passenger satisfaction is in decline.”

JetBlue was the highest-ranking airline in customer satisfaction, taking top honors in the first/business class segment as well as premium economy, topping last year’s winner: Delta. Southwest Airlines was the highest ranked carrier in economy and basic economy.

Here’s how the three segments shook out.

First/Business Class

1) JetBlue
2) Alaska Airlines
3) Delta Air Lines

Premium Economy

1) JetBlue
2) Delta Air Lines
3) Alaska Airlines

Economy/Basic Economy

1) Southwest Airlines
2) JetBlue
3) Delta Air Lines

Passenger satisfaction is based on eight factors: aircraft, baggage, boarding, check-in, cost and fees, flight crew, in-flight services, and reservation.

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