Flyers are the least satisfied with Spirit and Frontier
Flying is getting better — unless you fly these airlines.
Despite the tiny seats, long lines and abysmal snacks, flyers are more satisfied than ever with airlines, according to data released on Tuesday by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which has been measuring airline satisfaction among consumers for 22 years now. Airlines now score a 75 out of 100 in terms of customer satisfaction, up 4.2% from last year and the highest score on record, the survey of more than 8,600 travelers revealed.
Much of this is driven by relatively lower airfares, the ACSI report revealed: “Some of the largest legacy airlines now compete better with the discount carriers.” Plus, some airlines have been giving some consumers back perks they’d taken away like meals, and the number of lost bags is down.
But not all airlines are improving their scores: Frontier (63) and Spirit (61) were the only two airlines which had scores that dropped as compared to last year. “Frontier experienced a social media uproar over poor handling of cancelled flights due to weather in Denver that hit during the busy holiday period. Another ultra-low-cost carrier, Spirit, continues to hold last place, dropping 2% to 61. Passengers apparently don’t appreciate low ticket prices enough as a trade-off for low service quality—particularly as most airlines now also compete on price,” the report reveals.
In United’s case, this survey didn’t even reflect the passenger getting dragged off the United flight, and still the airline was the lowest-scoring legacy airline, the report revealed — which has been the case for many years. “There appears to be something endemic in the culture of United as a business that historically has created lower levels of customer satisfaction,” ACSI managing director David VanAmburg tells Moneyish. He says this may have to do with travelers feeling the airlines has lackluster customer service at their call centers and on the planes and a subpar loyalty program. ACSI says of the dragging incident that:” “It is unclear how much impact it will have on future passenger satisfaction as United already has the lowest score among the legacy airlines.” United, Spirit and Frontier did not respond to Moneyish’s request for comment.
Meanwhile, some airlines like Delta and American have seen big upticks in their scores with American scoring its highest level of customer satisfaction on record. ACSI attributes this to the fact that “American has invested roughly $20 billion in new aircraft, and passenger satisfaction has increased by 15% during that time.” And in Delta’s case, “the company’s efforts to improve service, including the addition of in-flight meals on longer routes.”
Even though airlines scores have risen overall, that’s not to say flying is pleasant. The airlines “remain mired within the bottom one-third of industries tracked” ACSI notes, besting only industries like cable (65 out of 100), internet (64) and cell phone companies (71). “Customer satisfaction has never appeared to be a goal for their airlines,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI’s chairman and founder.
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