U.S. airlines are achieving their highest level of
customer satisfaction since reaching their previous peak in 1994, according to
a report released Monday.
The American Customer
Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Travel Report 2016 found that satisfaction with
airlines jumped 4.3% from the previous year, as ticket prices dropped and carriers took
advantage of windfall profits to make investments in improving the customer
“New planes, more amenities, improved terminals and
increased pay for employees all provide an incremental change for the better in
the passenger experience, said the study, which was based upon an email survey
between March 5 and March 31 of more than 6,900 randomly selected respondents.
But the news wasn’t all good for airlines, which have
long been one of the lowest scoring industries in the index.
“Checked baggage fees, extra legroom fees, and
optional upgrades tend to dampen passenger satisfaction. Even the highest score
ever for the airline industry isn’t enough to move it out of the bottom
quartile of the ACSI,” the study says.
The survey showed that JetBlue and Southwest were the
two most popular U.S. airlines, with customer satisfaction ratings of 80.
Alaska came in third and the legacy carriers American, Delta and United
occupied the middle of the poll. Bringing up the rear were ultra-low-cost
carriers, with Spirit in last, Allegiant next to last and Frontier just ahead
of it. The poll did not include Hawaiian Airlines or Virgin America.
The ACSI Travel Report 2016 also looked at consumer
satisfaction with hotels and internet travel services. Hotel satisfaction rates
dropped 1.2% this year, caused by a decline in smaller hotel chains, including
Red Roof Inn, Radisson and Disney hotels, the authors wrote.
Among the 33 hotel chains included in the survey, JW
Marriott fared the best, followed by Embassy Suites and then a tie between
Hyatt Regency and Fairfield Inn & Suites. Lower-end hotels brought up the
bottom of the survey, with Super 8 and Motel 6 tied for last. Days Inn and
Ramada, a midscale offering, finished just ahead of them.
Priceline led the way in the internet travel service
poll, ahead of Travelocity, Expedia and Orbitz. An “others category,” which
included Kayak, Hotels.com and Booking.com, came in immediately behind