(NEXSTAR) — These days, flying the skies can be anything but a pleasure. New data from J.D. Power shows that while overall airline customer satisfaction is still a bit bumpy, some particular airlines boast happier flyers.
For the second year in a row, overall flyer satisfaction is down, with costs and fees being the biggest factor for consumers. That’s according to J.D. Power’s 2023 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, which ranked airlines based on responses from 7,774 people who flew between March 2022 and March 2023. Factors in the 1,000-point score include aircraft, boarding, check-in, cost and in-flight services. So who came out on top?
Here are J.D. Power’s 2023 rankings:
Premium economy (average score of 820)
- Delta Air Lines (848 points)
- JetBlue Airways (840)
- Alaska Airlines (823)
- American Airlines (821)
- Air Canada (797)
- United Airlines (784)
Economy/basic economy (average score of 782)
- Southwest Airlines (827)
- Delta Air Lines (801)
- JetBlue Airways (800)
- Alaska Airlines (781)
- WestJet (777)
- Allegiant Air (775)
- United Airlines (770)
- Air Canada (765)
- American Airlines (764)
- Spirit Airlines (727)
- Frontier Airlines (705)
When it comes to first/business class airlines, J.D. Power found JetBlue Airways to be the leader in customer satisfaction, with a score of 893 with a category average of 846. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines (865) and United Airlines (848) helped flesh out the top three.
BIG WINNERS: Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power says that while having lots of customers might indicate it’s a good time for the airline business, it’s a little more complicated than that.
“If yield management were the only metric airlines needed to be successful in the long term, this would be a banner year for the industry because they are operating at peak economic efficiency,” said Taylor. “From the customer perspective, however, that means planes are crowded, tickets are expensive and flight availability is constrained. While these drawbacks have not yet put a dent in leisure travel demand, if this trend continues, travelers will reach a breaking point and some airline brands may be damaged.”
Per the U.S. Department of Transportation’s February 2023 Air Travel Consumer Report, which was released in late April, Delta had the highest on-time arrival rates (83%) among marketing carriers, with Frontier having the lowest (69%). For clarity, in airline speak, “marketing carrier” means an airline that sells seats on other carriers’ flights, as explained by American Airlines. Marketing carriers work with “operating carriers” (the airline actually flying the plane) — for instance, British Airways could potentially operate an American Airlines plane.
For rates of canceled flights, Alaska Airlines had the highest rate of canceled flights (2.7%), while Allegiant Air had the lowest (0.7%).
The DOT currently operates an Airline Cancellation and Delay Dashboard, which lists carriers and the services related to cancellations and delays they have committed to providing. The DOT says keeping a running list means the department can help keep airlines accountable when customer inconveniences occur.