Airlines, led by JetBlue, improve customer satisfaction score

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JetBlue plane in Vegas
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Both airlines and online travel services improved customer satisfaction in 2015, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

They were among five of the 43 industries tracked by ACSI that improved this year. The others were Internet retail, social media and household appliances.

Hotels saw no change from last year, among eight industries that remained flat.

Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the ACSI, said consumer satisfaction overall is trending downward, and called the industries that registered improved customer satisfaction “exceptions.”

The index includes measures from about 330 companies, which are rated on a scale of 0 to 100; the lowest scores this year were in the 50s (including Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines), while 72 companies had a score of 80 or higher (including JetBlue and Marriott International), which is considered a very high level.

Many of the travel-related companies measured surpassed the national ACSI score, a weighted average of all sectors and industries measured, which was 73.8.

Online travel service increased 1.3% in customer satisfaction to an ACSI score of 78. Individual customer satisfaction scores were broken down for Expedia (77, a 1.3% increase), Orbitz (75, a 2.6% decrease), Priceline (75, the same as last year), Travelocity (75, a 1.4% increase) and “all others” (78, the same as last year).

Airlines saw an increase in customer satisfaction from a score of 69 last year to 71 this year, a 2.9% change. Historically, airlines have been among the poorest performers  in the ACSI, but this year they were only one point shy from their peak customer satisfaction level, which was 72 in 1994. Since then, airlines hit a low of 61 in 2001, and have not scored over 69 until this year.

Broken down by airline, however, the results vary. JetBlue had a 2.5% increase in customer satisfaction to a score of 81, but low-cost carriers Frontier and Spirit both had ratings in the 50s — 58 and 54, respectively. This is the first year Frontier and Spirit were measured.

Scores of the Big Three U.S. airlines — Delta, American and United — all remained the same this year versus last year at 71, 66 and 60, respectively.

Rounding out the airline category were Southwest (flat at 78), Alaska (debuting on the list at 75), Allegiant (debuting at 65) and “all others” (a 4.3% increase to 73).

Hotels remained flat with an ACSI score of 75. The highest scores, all 80, went to Marriott International (a 1.2% decrease), Hilton Worldwide (a 2.6% increase) and Hyatt Hotels Corp. (a 2.6% increase), while the lowest scores went to Wyndham Hotel Group (68, a 5.6% decrease) and Motel 6 (debuting at 63).

The remainder of hotel companies were La Quinta (debuting at 76), Starwood Hotels & Resorts (flat at 76), InterContinental Hotels Group (a 2.6% decrease to 76), Best Western (flat at 74), Choice Hotels International (a 1.4% decrease to 73) and “all others” (a 2.7% increase to 75).

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