Airline satisfaction jumps, despite an unclear future

US consumers are more satisfied with their airlines for the second straight year, according to results of the US American Customer Satisfaction Survey released June 15.

The national survey, which tracks US customer satisfaction across a variety of industries, showed that passenger satisfaction with airlines was up three percent on last year - although the results were not reflected in a simultaneously-released survey conducted by specialist flight comparison site Airfarewatchdog.com.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) said that lower passenger volumes and stable fuel prices are playing a part in keeping customers smiling, along with the fact that consumers are getting better at avoiding fees.

An increase in the number of people using carry-on luggage to avoid checking fees, for instance, has had the dual effect of making customers believe they are saving money and reducing the instances of lost bags.

However, ACSI suggests that the feeling of satisfaction may not last for much longer given the increasing fees and recovery in passenger numbers, something borne out by the results of an Airfarewatchdog.com survey of 2,100 travelers.

The website found that passengers are increasingly disgruntled at paying more for services on board, with individuals naming non-alcoholic drinks, clean bathrooms, clean blankets and pillows and anti-germ products as items they believe should be provided free by the airlines.

George Hobica, the founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, said that passengers may not be able expect a return to the old days anytime soon.

"Industry observers think that airlines may return to profitability this year or next, so maybe they'll be able to provide some of the creature comforts they took away in the lean years," he explained.

"However, passengers will have to compete with labor unions, who will also be looking to regain some of the wages and benefits they gave up when the industry was at its low point."

Interestingly, Southwest Airlines topped the ACSI survey in terms of customer satisfaction and the Airfarewatchdog.com survey in terms of “bang for your buck,” suggesting that the airline has the right idea when it comes to how it treats - and charges - its passengers.

The ACSI also found that the merger of Delta and Northwest seems to have a negative impact on customers’ impressions of Delta, as the airline dropped 3 percent.

Service with a smile - the friendliest flight attendants in the US
Data from Airfarewatchdog. com

1. Southwest
2. Delta/Northwest
3. JetBlue
4. American

www.theacsi.org
www.airfarewatchdog.com

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