May 15, 2013 -- A new study shows that for all the griping we do about the airlines, we haven't been this happy with the industry in seven years.
JD Power and Associates today released its 2013 North America Airline Satisfaction Study. It shows airline satisfaction among consumers is at its highest levels since 2006.
The study measures passenger satisfaction with North America airline carriers based on performance in seven factors (in order of importance): cost and fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in and reservation.
Satisfaction has improved across all seven factors.
Among traditional carriers, Alaska Airlines ranks highest in the traditional carrier segment for a sixth consecutive year. It also had the biggest gain in improvement since last year. Delta Airlines came in second place.
The survey found traditional carriers have the highest level of satisfaction in more than five years and a level of performance consistent with the period before the introduction of baggage and other fees.
When it comes to low-cost carriers, JetBlue came out on top for the eighth consecutive year, followed by Southwest Airlines.
More interesting findings:
• 15 percent of fliers use a mobile device to check in online, more than double the 6 percent who used mobile devices two years ago.
• Check-in satisfaction is higher among passengers who check in online for their flight than among those who check in at the airport via kiosk or the ticket counter.
• The impact of baggage fees is less pronounced than in the past as passengers are gradually more accepting of the fees, but they still continue to be a source of passenger dissatisfaction.
• Overall satisfaction among passengers who use Wi-Fi during their flight is 39 points higher than among those who do not use it.
• Among passengers who are greeted with a smile by airline staff, even if only some of the time, satisfaction scores are higher than among those who never receive a smile.