It's already been a never-ending year of airline PR nightmares, and it's only the end of April. With United's multiple scandals and Delta's delays, it's easy to lose faith in the airline industry. But which carriers are customers actually raving about? The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) recently issued its annual travel report to shed some light on this, reports CNN Money.
The top spot went to JetBlue, which scored an 82 on a 100-point scale. Its satisfaction rate went up 2% since last year due to its low ticket prices and upgraded cabins. In second place was Southwest Airlines, which received a score of 80 — the same as last year. Alaska Airlines came in third, with a score of 78.
"JetBlue and Southwest have found the sweet spot when it comes to discounting to a certain extent to make passengers appreciative of the lower cost and cutting back on some of the amenities that aren't particular pain points for fliers," David VanAmburg, managing director at ACSI, told CNN Money.
While passengers appreciate low prices, many travelers aren't willing to put up with paying extra fees for every single thing, like printing their boarding passes. That's partly why ultra-low cost carrier Spirit Airlines had the lowest score for the third year in a row, with a 61; down 2% from last year.
A Spirit spokesperson told CNN Money that the company is committed to improving its operations and customer service. "Beginning last spring, Spirit initiated a number of programs that have led to major improvements in on-time performance and a 64% reduction in complaints year over year," he said.
The second-lowest scorer was Frontier Airlines, which had a customer-satisfaction rating of 63. Both American and Delta saw their scores jump to 76, up 6% and 7%, respectively. Overall, customer satisfaction across airlines went up by 4.2% in the last year. The average rate is now 75, while last year's was 72.
As for United? Because the report is based on a yearlong period of conducting customer interviews that ended in March, it did not capture the incident in which the passenger was forcibly removed from a flight. The airline received a score of 70, seeing the least improvement of all the "legacy" carriers.