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J.D. Power 2019 Report: The Best Airlines In North America

by SharonKurheg

The responses of the annual J.D. Power 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction StudySM have been tabulated and analyzed and the top U.S. airlines have been announced.

We’ll cut to the chase and let you know that Alaska Airlines won first place for traditional carriers for the 12th consecutive year (!!!), and JetBlue and Southwest tied for best of all the low-cost airlines after Southwest grabbed the first place title from JetBlue for 2 years in a row.

Here are the rankings:

Traditional carriers

1. Alaska Airlines (801 points on a 1,000-point scale)
2. Delta Air Lines (788 points)
3. American Airlines (764 points)
4. Air Canada (729 points)
5. United Airlines (723 points)

Summary: In comparison to 2018, American and Air Canada simply switched places. #1, #2 and #5 were in the same positions as last year.

Low-cost carriers

1. JetBlue (817 points on a 1,000 point scale)
2. Southwest Airlines (817 points)
3. WestJet (758 points)
4. Spirit Airlines (711 points)
5. Frontier Airlines (702 points)

Summary: As mentioned above, JetBlue and Southwest tied for first place this year. Allegiant, which had been in the #4 spot, was usurped by Spirit Airlines. J.D. Power said last year that Spirit didn’t have a broad enough U.S. footprint to be included in the report. In Fall 2018 alone, Spirit discontinued 10 of its routes but added 23 others, and then added even more in the first half of 2019. So I guess not having enough flights out of not enough cities is no longer an issue for them.

The three carriers that showed the most improvement in overall customer satisfaction from last year were Air Canada (they increases 30 points), Alaska Airlines (their increase was by 26 points) and Delta (21 points).

The survey, which is now in its 15th year, measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost & fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, check-in and reservation.

The study measures passenger satisfaction among both business and leisure travelers, and is based on responses from 5,966 passengers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2018 and March 2019.

“Airlines continue to deliver on the operational side of air travel,” said Michael Taylor, Travel Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power. “New technology investments have dramatically improved the reservation and check-in process. Fleets are newer and travelers 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,” Taylor continued. “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.”

Some interesting developments for the 2019 survey included:

  • Customer satisfaction shows a record high: Consumers’ satisfaction with airlines in 2019 continued to increase, marking that trend for the 8th year in a row.
  • Improvement driven by traditional carriers: Customer satisfaction in this sector increased by 22 points over 2018, while it went down by 6 points for low-cost carriers.
  • Technical investments in reservation and check-in systems pay off: consumers that the reservation and check-in experiences are the most satisfying parts of the airline experience. Hooray for digital check-in, self-service kiosks and the airlines’ efforts at improving efficiency!
  • In flight service remains a stumbling block: The airlines continue to struggle with in-flight services such as seatback entertainment (Joe said it best – they’ll never get it right), food service and Wi-Fi. The study hints that fresh food, seatback games and seatback live television would be the most satisfying to customers.

Click here to see J.D. Power’s full press release.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


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