Boston's biggest carrier, JetBlue Airways, has been named the top-rated low-cost carrier for the fifth year in a row, according to J.D. Power and Associates' 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, released today. Alaska Airlines was the highest-ranked legacy carrier for the third year in a row.
Overall, customer satisfaction with airlines rose for the first time in four years -- a turnaround J.D. Power's Stuart Greif attributed to fewer people traveling, which in turn has meant less congestion, lower fares, and more on-time flights. "You had this confluence of benefits accrue ... even as it was causing financial pain for carriers," said Greif, vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice.
But airline satisfaction levels, based on more than 12,300 passengers' responses to prices, in-flight services, baggage, and other measures, are still lower than they were in 2006 and 2007. And as more travelers take to the skies as the economy improves, customers may get crankier.
"As things come up, can the airlines take the initiative and build back loyalty," Greif said, "or are lower levels of satisfaction here to stay?"