J.D Power Ranks Airlines: Alaska Airlines, JetBlue Rank Highest

Despite growing dissatisfaction with costs and fees, customer satisfaction with airlines has increased for the second year in a row, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which last week released the results of the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.

Overall customer satisfaction with airlines in 2011 has improved to an average of 683 on a 1,000-point scale, J.D. Power reported, which is 10 points higher than 2010. Among low-cost carriers, customer satisfaction averages 751 — its highest level in five years. However, customer satisfaction with traditional network carriers is still 16 points below pre-recession levels, averaging 651, versus 667 in 2007.

For both low-cost and traditional network carriers, customer satisfaction has increased in nearly all areas of the customer experience, including in-flight services, flight crew, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, check-in and reservation. The only area experiencing a decline in customer satisfaction was cost and fees, which for traditional network carriers fell from 582 in 2010 to 555 in 2011 — a new low.

"Despite initial declines in satisfaction with increased automation of check-in and reservation, passengers have adjusted their expectations during the past several years and now appear more satisfied with the convenience and speed that technology has enabled, while airlines benefit from reduced costs and greater efficiencies in these areas."

Among low-cost carriers, the top airlines for customer satisfaction are:

• JetBlue Airways (773)
• Southwest Airlines (769)
• WestJet (729)
• AirTran Airways (690)
• Frontier Airlines (688).

Among traditional network carriers, meanwhile, the top airlines for customer satisfaction are:

• Alaska Airlines (680)
• Air Canada (678)
• Continental Airlines (661)
• American Airlines (656)
• Delta Air Lines (650)
• United Airlines (640)
• US Airways (625)