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J.D. Power Study Finds Flyers Unhappy with Airlines

After two years of a pandemic, the annual J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study reveals flyers are dissatisfied with the cuts airlines made in the name of safety, along with the increasing price of airfare.
During the pandemic, flyers begrudgingly accepted certain service cuts and changes by airlines in the name of safety. Two years later, those same passengers are now more dissatisfied with their service, feeling that the “temporary” cuts may be coming to stay.


In the J.D. Power 2022 North American Airline Satisfaction Study, passenger satisfaction in multiple categories – including cost, flight crews and aircraft quality – dropped significantly from the same time last year.


High Airfare Costs and Lost Perks Drive Customer Dissatisfaction

Driving the dissatisfaction are drops in the broader customer experience. When airlines declared prohibition after a sharp increase in unruly passenger events, flyers grew frustrated. Although most have brought back alcohol sales to most of the cabin, satisfaction scores on premium economy food and beverage decreased by 38 points. In the first and business class, dissatisfaction increased by 12 points, while the basic economy and economy section saw happiness increase by seven points.


Airfare costs are also driving unhappiness among frequent flyers. MarketWatch reports airfare alone increased by 18.6% in April 2021, reflecting the highest single-month spike since government tracking began. The increases come from the combination of a pent-up demand for air travel and increased fuel costs. As a result, dissatisfaction increased across all cabin categories: The survey reported a 66-point drop in premium economy, 33 points down in economy and basic economy and a 21-point decrease in first and business.


Although the report looks bad, analysts at J.D. Power say the dissatisfaction is due to customer expectations. While pandemic travel saw fewer flyers and more room on flights, increasing consumer demand and limited airline staff has flyers wanting more from less.


“Customer satisfaction with North American airlines climbed to unprecedented highs for all of the wrong reasons during the past two years,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said in the press release. “with volumes surging and some remnants of pandemic-era constraints still in place, passenger satisfaction is in decline—but that’s not really bad news. If airlines can find ways to manage these growing volumes while making some small adjustments to help passengers feel more valued, they should be able to manage this return to ‘normal.’”


JetBlue, Alaska, Delta and Southwest Lead Satisfaction Ratings

The news wasn’t all bad for airlines and passengers. In the first/business segment, JetBlue and their Mint product ranked highest for customer satisfaction, with a score of 878. Alaska Airlines was a very close second, scoring only two points under JetBlue, while Delta Air Lines scored third. The same three carriers also took the top three honors in premium economy, with JetBlue coming ahead of Delta in second and Alaska third. In the economy sector, Southwest Airlines was rated the highest airline in satisfaction, followed by JetBlue and Delta.

MRM May 19, 2022

SWA is still at the top?  Can't imagine how low the standards are for some people anymore.  SWA used to be tops - but not the past 18 months.

closecover May 16, 2022

And in other news, another JD Power survey has found that water is wet.

cmd320 May 13, 2022

Wow... groundbreaking...

sfoeuroflyer May 12, 2022

I truly wonder what drives these surveys.  How could Delta come in third?  They downgraded their service and food horribly.  A plunge into the basement.  I have flown them with mid continent and coast to coast in late 2021 and last month in 2022.  The on board service was abreviated.  No menus.  No wine list.  All food served at once.  And a new low:  fake meat.  Airlines need to restore full service again.  No more "virus" excuses.  

bgasser May 12, 2022

How is JetBlue leading in satisfaction?  The airline is regularly late, cancels flights, and has experienced several meltdowns in recent time.  Southwest also has had its issues with ontime performance is constantly changing scheduled flight times.  I suffered WN's October 2021 meltdown and was standed at BWI.