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Drum roll! The results are in for the 2016 North American Airline Satisfaction Study. Surprisingly, overall customer satisfaction with airlines is at a 10-year high!
The increase in airlines’ social media customer service on sites like Twitter and Facebook help the companies get instant feedback from passengers. And they appear to be listening!
Let’s take a look at which airlines did best in the study!
JetBlue Still Number 1, but Southwest Is Catching Up
#1 Low-Cost Airline – JetBlue
Among low-cost airlines, JetBlue ranked highest for the 11th consecutive year. But JetBlue’s scores actually decreased compared to last year. This is likely due to the airline’s new charges for checked bags.
But many folks still like JetBlue for the free in-flight entertainment & Wi-Fi, more legroom, snacks & drinks, and cheap fares! Plus, JetBlue points don’t expire and there are never blackout dates on award flights. And you can earn award flights faster by pooling your points with family members!
This year, JetBlue has some new initiatives aimed at keeping their number 1 ranking. JetBlue has 3 new credit cards that earn lots of points if you’re a frequent JetBlue flier.
And, JetBlue recently said they will expand their Mint (Business Class) service this year. Folks like Mint for the lie-flat seats, fast security screening, getting their bags off the plane first, and terrific food.
And JetBlue is targeting the number 2 ranked Southwest by offering JetBlue elite Mosaic status if you have the Southwest Companion Pass.
#2 Low-Cost Airline – Southwest
But all of these new initiatives are not stopping Southwest from catching up in the rankings!
Southwest ranked number 2 in the study, only slightly behind JetBlue. And, the airline improved in all 7 factors used to measure customer satisfaction including:
- Boarding / Deplaning / Baggage
- Cost & Fees
- Flight Crew
- In-Flight Service
And earning the Companion Pass is even easier right now because the Chase Southwest Premier, and Premier small business card, and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card card are all offering 50,000 Southwest point sign-up bonuses.
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio if you need more Southwest points for an award flight.
While there’s no Business Class on Southwest, they’re a terrific deal. Because you get low fares, no change or cancellation fees, and 2 free checked bags.
Maybe Southwest will rank number 1 next year!
Alaska Airlines Is the Top Traditional Airline
For the 9th consecutive year, Alaska Airlines ranked ahead of American Airlines, Delta Airlines (#2), and United Airlines. Alaska Airlines also ranked number 1 for their frequent flyer program.
Alaska Airlines is much smaller than the other traditional airlines in the survey. For example, they operate an average of 880 flights daily compared to 3,400 daily flights for American Airlines.
Alaska Airlines is known for great service on flights in the Pacific Northwest. And they have many flights to Hawaii.
Also, folks who collect Alaska Airlines miles love that they can book award flights on other airlines like Air France, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines. And, they earn even more miles when they use the Bank of America Alaska Airlines which offers 3 Alaska Airlines miles per $1 you spend on Alaska Airlines. Here’s my full review of the card.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how Alaska Airlines’ merger with Virgin America affects their ranking. Virgin America is not included in the J.D. Power Study. But, both airlines are known for their quality service.
Results from the J.D. Power 2016 North America Airline Satisfaction Study show folks give the highest ratings to JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines.
Competition among US airlines is fierce. Airlines looking for higher satisfaction rankings will have to offer high quality service at affordable fares, which is good news for folks like us! It helps to have a strong loyalty program too!
Do you prefer Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, or Southwest for travel within the US?