Air Canada, WestJet rank high in airline satisfaction survey

Among traditional North American carriers, Alaska Airlines ranks highest for the 12th consecutive year

The J.D. Power 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction Study ranks Air Canada as fourth overall in the traditional carrier category and Calgary-based WestJet as third overall in the low-cost carrier category.

“Among Canada-based airlines, Air Canada (729) saw its customer satisfaction score decline five points from 2018. WestJet (758) saw its score increase 11 points but remains below the low-cost carrier average,” said J.D. Power in a news release on Wednesday.

It said a combination of newer planes, better ticket value and improved customer touchpoints have driven overall satisfaction with airlines to its highest point in history, up 11 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from last year’s record-setting performance. The surge is driven by significant improvements among traditional carriers, while satisfaction slowed with low-cost carriers, it added.

“Airlines continue to deliver on the operational side of air travel,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, in a statement. “New technology investments have dramatically improved the reservation and check-in process. Fleets are newer and travellers generally feel that they are getting great value for their money. These improvements have been most profound in the traditional carrier segment, where customer satisfaction has climbed considerably.

“While low-cost carriers have historically had the highest levels of customer satisfaction in our study, due to a strong sense of value for money among customers, that line is starting to blur as traditional carriers improve their services and operations. The one area where both traditional and low-cost carriers can still improve, however, is in in-flight services. It continues to be the lowest-ranked factor in the study, as many airlines still struggle with in-flight entertainment, connectivity, in-seat power and food service.”

Among traditional carriers, Alaska Airlines ranks highest for the 12th consecutive year, with a score of 801. Delta Air Lines (788) ranks second and American Airlines (764) ranks third.

Among low-cost carriers, JetBlue Airways (817) and Southwest Airlines (817) rank highest in a tie. For Southwest, this is the third consecutive year at the top of the J.D. Power ranking.

The study is in its 15th year.

It measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost and fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, check-in and reservation.

– Mario Toneguzzi

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