American Airlines shows improvement  in latest JDPower satisfaction survey


American Airlines continued to show improvements in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction Study,

American, which operates a hub at Philadelphia International Airport, finished behind Delta and Alaska No. 1 Airlines, but pulled ahead of Air Canada and maintained a lead over United. Alaska, United, Air Canada and Delta all offer a limited number of flights from Philadelphia.

American and its international route system, is viewed as a plus when it comes to economic development in northern Delaware and the Delaware Valley. The carrier also employs a sizable number of Delaware residents.

American has struggled with customer service issues and delays that come from limited runways at Philadelphia. Philadelphia became for American when it combined with US Airways. Both American and US Airways had made trips through bankruptcy court.

Southwest and Jet Blue, both of which offer a limited number of flights from Philadelphia, finished in a tie for first in the discount category.Southwest operates a hub at Baltimore-Washington that draws many Delaware business and leisurepassengers.

Frontier Airlines, which served New Castle Airport for a brief period five years ago, ranked at the bottom among discount carriers. Frontier, which caters to leisure travelers, offers flights to two dozen cities from Philadelphia. It recently added flights to Denver from Baltimore.

Frontier serves 100 cities (roughly the same number as Southwest) with about one-seventh of Southwest’s jet fleet. Flights to most of its cities operate a few days a week. That level of frequency can make cancellations and delays difficult for passengers.

Spirit, which serves Philadelphia and Baltimore, finished ahead of Frontier. Spirit has fewer nonstop destinations from the two airports but has daily service.

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.

“Airlines continue to deliver on the operational side of air travel,” saidMichael 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 added. “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.”

This year’s significant gains in customer satisfaction were driven by the traditional carriers, whose segment satisfaction score improves 22 points from 2018. The low-cost segment—while still having higher overall satisfaction than the traditional carrier segment—declines 6 points from 2018, thus driving a segment convergence in satisfaction.

Aiding the performance of airlines were improvements driven by investments in digital check-in technologies, self-service kiosks and a concerted effort among airlines to minimize pre-flight hassles.

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study, now in its 15thyear, 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. 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.

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