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Is Happiness Determined by Cabin Class?

Data from the J.D. Power 2023 North America Airline Satisfaction Study suggests flyers are still not happy with the airlines, but premium cabin traveler have slightly more satisfaction.
In a year of price hikes and reduced service, flyers are discontent with the state of air travel service for the second year in a row.


New information from the J.D. Power 2023 North America Airline Satisfaction Study shows travelers are unhappy to the point of “possible brand damage if the current pattern of price hikes, staffing shortages and reduced routes continues.”


JetBlue, Delta, and Southwest Lead in Customer Happiness

Overall, passenger satisfaction dropped to a score of 791 on a 1,000-point scale, down seven points from 2022. The reduced score suggests travelers are still unhappy with the customer experience aboard America’s airlines.


“From the customer perspective…planes are crowded, tickets are expensive and flight availability is constrained,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said in a press release. “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.”


The divide between happy and frustrated passengers is noticeable between passengers in the forward cabin and those in economy. Flyers in premium economy and first class cabins reported a nine-point increase in satisfaction, driven by improvements in food and beverage options. On the far opposite side, those traveling aboard low-cost carriers – which feature tighter seats and multiple ancillary fees – reported much more dissatisfaction, with cost and fees scores dropping by 19 points.


For the second consecutive year, JetBlue leads the pack in customer satisfaction among first class passengers. The past year saw the New York carrier announce an expanded European schedule, featuring cabins equipped with their Mint product. Delta Air Lines ranked second, with United Airlines in third.


In Premium Economy, Delta ranked first in the category for passenger satisfaction. JetBlue came in a close second, only 8 points below the Atlanta-based airline. Alaska Airlines came in third with a score of 823.


Despite their difficulties to start 2023, Southwest Airlines is once again the leader in economy passenger satisfaction. Delta and JetBlue finished the study in nearly a dead heat, with only one point separating second place Delta from third place JetBlue.


Even though the news is overall bad for airlines, there was one positive take away from the study: Flyers are more satisfied with onboard food and beverage options. Traveler sentiments for in-flight dining is up 12 points compared to 2022.

ManInExitRow May 23, 2023

United third in first class? I can only conclude US pax have little experience of Mid East or Asian carriers.