June 05, 2018
J.D. Power: Airline Customer Satisfaction Reaches Record HighPassengers are happier than ever with their experience on North American airlines, finds a new J.D. Power study.Although flying probably isn't your favorite thing in the world to do, the headaches you're used to face are becoming fewer and farther between, suggests a new survey from J.D. Power and Associates, which today published its J.D. Power 2018 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.

Now in its 14th year, the J.D. Power study is based on a survey of 11,508 business and leisure travelers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2017 and March 2018. Passengers rated airlines based on performance in seven factors: cost and fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, check-in, and reservation.

Overall, guest satisfaction in this year's study averaged 762 on a 1,000-point scale, which is a record high. J.D. Power attributed airlines' strong showing -- the seventh consecutive year of improved performance -- to "airline investments in newer planes, improved customer satisfaction with overhead storage compartments, and cheaper fares."

"Airlines in North America show consistent improvements across all the factors, from booking a ticket to handling luggage," said J.D. Power Travel Practice Lead Michael Taylor. "Operationally, it's never been a better time to fly. Passengers perceive greater value in ticket prices, checking in has never been easier, passengers are more satisfied with the actual aircraft, and airlines have improved their baggage-handling performance."

But the guest experience isn't without turbulence: According to J.D. Power, airlines continue to fall short of customer expectations when it comes to in-flight Wi-Fi, the quality of which scored lower than any other factor in the study.

"Today's passengers expect trouble-free connectivity for personal devices and airlines are challenged to keep pace with the technology that can achieve that goal," Taylor continued. "This is important because passengers are far more likely to have a positive experience with an airline if they are entertained during their flight."

Top Airlines

J.D. Power also ranked specific airlines. Travelers rated Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines as their favorite traditional carriers, which customer satisfaction scores of 775 and 767, respectively. Among low-cost carriers, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways took top honors, with scores of 818 and 812, respectively.