Airlines

Delta Takes Top Honors in 2021 J.D. Power Airline Satisfaction Study

Delta Takes Top Honors in 2021 J.D. Power Airline Satisfaction Study
Joe Cortez

In a year interrupted by a global pandemic, Delta’s policies of blocking middle seats and enhanced cleaning protocols earned them the top spot in the 2021 J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study. The Atlanta-based carrier narrowly outranked Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines to earn their first trophy since 1995.

When the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted air travel as we knew it, airlines changed their policies to cater to a traveler who valued personal safety above all else. Using a combination of social distancing policies and cleaning, Delta Air Lines finally earned their first J.D. Power trophy since 1995. In a press release, the research group named the Atlanta-based carrier the tip airline in their 2021 North America Airline Satisfaction Survey

Delta, Southwest and Alaska Earn Top Three Spots

With a score of 860. Delta was able to edge out Southwest Airlines by four points, and Alaska Airlines by 10 points. J.D. Power notes that Delta outperformed on the flight crew factor, giving them the overall edge.

The increased performance of flight crews throughout the pandemic was one of the bright spots for airlines in 2020. Across all airlines, overall satisfaction increased by 26 points as flight attendants and pilots had to enforce new measures, including face covering mandates.

But the front-line employees weren’t the only bright spot for flyers, according to J.D. Power. The removal of change fees for domestic flights also delighted flyers, driving up customer satisfaction with cost and fees by 47 points. Additionally, airlines policies of blocking middle seats and increased cleaning protocols earned airlines a lot of goodwill from their passengers.

“The airline industry adapted to a most unusual year by simplifying ticketing processes, waiving change fees and baggage fees which were key to persuading people to fly during the pandemic,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. “Maintaining that level of flexibility and recognition of individual passenger needs will be a strategic advantage for airlines that want to set themselves apart in passenger satisfaction as travel volumes start to recover.”

J.D. Power Report Conflicts With Other Airline Industry Benchmarks

Although the J.D. Power report suggests airlines performed better than expected during the pandemic, other reports suggests flyers were not happy with the service. The 2021 Wichita State University Airline Quality Ratings found airline complaints raised by 400 percent in 2020, mostly over refund policies.

View Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. Grog

    May 13, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    JD Power??? They’re about as credible as Skytrax.

    C’mon, Flyertalk. We deserve better.

  2. sfoeuroflyer

    May 13, 2021 at 2:33 pm

    What a pitifully low bar it is. In the world of the totally blind, the one eyed person is king. United has thrown away all notions of good service. AA is better but not brilliant. All Delta did was turn its planes into no service buses with empty middle seats. Yipppee. Oh and they added a healthy dose of political virtue signaling. Nobody should get an award. This situation is the opposite of a participation trophy. They all get the booby prize.

  3. MRM

    May 14, 2021 at 4:37 am

    I’m not sure how any airline can brag too much about any award the past 15 months. The flyer levels went down to 1970’s levels and they cut in-flight services with machete-like precision and tact.

    They couldn’t pause these awards for a year? It’s a lot like the “World Series Champions” that played exactly 1/3 as many games as a normal season/postseason – I mean, really?

  4. DeltaFlyer123

    May 14, 2021 at 5:54 am

    I happen to agree with JD Power ranking Delta #1. I’ve been a loyal Delta flyer since I moved to Mississippi in 1979, and joined their frequent flyer program in 1983, shortly after it was implemented. I have flown over 2 million miles since then, some of course on other Skyteam member airlines, but the majority on Delta, and this is in addition to tens of thousands of miles on other airlines outside Skyteam. And prior to 1979, I have been actively flying since the 1960’s on multiple US and Canadian airlines.
    I guess we all gauge our preferences through our own unique lenses, and when a survey doesn’t match our preconceived notions, we disagree.

  5. cairns

    May 14, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    And this is why JD Power is considered a joke.

    While Mr. Bastian was touting how great his airline was in the WSJ another article they published on the very same day that chronicled one woman’s six hour and fifteen minute wait on hold trying to change her ticket. And he whines about the ME3 being subsidized while the taxpayers provide Delta millions. What a farce.

  6. cmd320

    May 14, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    So Ed made a sizable donation to the JD Power fund this year it seems…

  7. bigbuy

    May 15, 2021 at 3:42 am

    Let’s see how the Deltoids stack up against all airlines worldwide. Good grief, gimme a break with this crappy comparison.

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