After years of feeling restricted, travelers are booking trips in big numbers. But while airline revenues are hitting new records as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, customers are increasingly grumpy about their travel experiences, according to the J.D. Power 2023 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.
For the second straight year, airline customer satisfaction scores are down significantly. The industry’s overall passenger satisfaction score sits at 791 out of 1,000 possible points.
That is down 7 points from last year although the decline is substantially less than in 2022, when scores sank by 22 points.
The scores are based on surveys of 7,774 passengers who had flown on a major North American airline during the month before taking the survey. They rated performance across eight factors:
- Cost and fees
- Flight crew
- In-flight services
In a summary of the study, Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, says airlines are now “operating at peak economic efficiency”:
“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.”
Even as customer satisfaction dips, some airlines are getting high marks from travelers. Following are the U.S. airlines that American travelers like best.
For the second straight year, JetBlue Airways topped the rankings in this category. Unlike the other categories on this list, customer satisfaction actually improved in first/business class and was up nine points for 2023.
The following airlines all exceed the overall industry average score of 846 for this category:
- JetBlue Airways: 893
- Delta Air Lines: 865
- United Airlines: 848
Premium economy class
Delta Air Lines takes this year’s top slot in the premium economy category.
The following airlines all exceed the overall industry average score of 820 in this category:
- Delta Air Lines: 848
- JetBlue Airways: 840
- Alaska Airlines: 823
- American Airlines: 821
Economy/basic economy class
Despite some well-publicized glitches over the past year, Southwest Airlines earned the highest ranking from customers in the economy/basic economy category for the second consecutive year.
Fewer bargain airfares meant customer satisfaction sank in this category. Satisfaction with cost and fees plummeted, down 19 points from a year ago.
The following airlines all exceed the overall industry average score of 782 in this category:
- Southwest Airlines: 827
- Delta Air Lines: 801
- JetBlue Airways: 800
Saving more on your next vacation
Much of the dissatisfaction with airlines today revolves around higher costs. One way to bring down these expenses is to stop by the Money Talks News Solutions Center and search for great travel deals.
Airfare isn’t the only place you can trim the cost of your next vacation. Making smart decisions about meals can save you a significant amount of money, as we note in “10 Ways to Save Money on Food While Traveling.”
Finally, purchasing the right travel items can save you both cash and an even more precious resource — time. For more, check out some of the “17 Travel Products That Save You Time and Money.”