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Travelers’ satisfaction with the airlines has decreased as the planes fill up and prices rise: JD Power survey

Travelers waiting in line at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, Monday, January 3, 2022.

Christopher Occhicone | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Packed planes and more expensive tickets lowered customer satisfaction with airlines for the first time in a decade in the past year, according to a JD Power survey published Wednesday.

“Customer satisfaction with North American airlines has risen to unprecedented heights for all the wrong reasons over the past two years,” said Michael Taylor, head of travel intelligence at JD Power, in the report on North American airlines. “Fewer passengers meant more space on the planes, less waiting time in line and more attention from the flight attendants. But that business model was simply not sustainable.”

Demand for air travel has risen over the past year, along with ticket prices, following a prolonged pandemic downturn.

In March, domestic U.S. air fares were 20% higher than in 2019, when Covid cases fell and cities lifted pandemic restrictions on activities such as indoor dining and concerts, according to Adobe Analytics. The rise in fares has surpassed bookings, according to Adobe.

But customer satisfaction fell among travelers across all ticket classes – bus, premium economy and first or business class – according to the survey, which was based on responses from 7,004 passengers from March 2021 to March 2022. It was the first year of year-over-year decline since 2012 study, Taylor said.

JetBlue Airways topped the rankings for first-class and business-class service among North American airlines, while Southwest Airlines came in first place for economy and basic economy.

Here’s how the airlines stood together and their scores out of 1,000:

First / Business Class

  1. JetBlue Airways (878)
  2. Alaska Airlines (876)
  3. Delta Air Lines (862)
  4. Air Canada (832)
  5. United Airlines (822)
  6. American Airlines (814)

Economics / Basic Economics

  1. Southwest Airlines (849)
  2. JetBlue Airways (828)
  3. Delta Air Lines (813)
  4. Allegiant Air (803)
  5. Alaska Airlines (794)
  6. Air Canada (777)
  7. United Airlines (774)
  8. Spirit Airlines (772)
  9. American Airlines (770)
  10. Frontier Airlines (755)
  11. WestJet (751)
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