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 experience. 

“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 Priceline.


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