STUDY: LCCs Outshine Legacy Carriers

Old Apr 5, 04, 6:38 am
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STUDY: LCCs Outshine Legacy Carriers

Survey finds flying cheap can be best

Annual study gives 3 of 4 top spots to low-fare carriers

-- Low-cost airlines, which have been giving major carriers financial fits by undercutting their fares, may also be providing a better customer experience than their full-service competitors, according to results of an airline quality study released Monday.

Three of the top four airlines in the survey were low-cost carriers, with JetBlue Airways at the front of the pack, joined by Southwest Airlines and America West Airlines, ranked third and fourth.

The best performance by a full-service carrier was Alaska Airlines, at No. 2.

Brent Bowen, director of the Aviation Initiate at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and co-director of the study, said the results add "further evidence to the emerging performance gap between the legacy carriers and the no-frills network carriers."

Meanwhile, the three largest carriers -- American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines -- were closer to the bottom among the carriers surveyed, in 11th, 9th and 12th places, respectively.

Last in the survey was Atlantic Southeast Airlines, an Atlanta, Georgia-based commuter carrier owned by Delta.

The study ranked the 14 airlines that carried at least 1 percent of the 587 million U.S. passengers who traveled by air in 2003, The Associated Press reported.

The annual survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Wichita State University, looked at each airline's on-time performance during 2003, as well as the number of customer complaints, denied boardings and mishandled baggage.

The airline industry as a whole improved its performance slightly in 2003 compared with 2002, mainly due to a significant drop in customer complaints, the survey found.

The 2003 survey marked the first time that JetBlue and two other low-cost carriers, AirTran Airways and ATA Airlines, were included in the rankings. AirTran was ranked eighth; ATA, 10th.

When it came to on-time arrival, Southwest had the best performance, with more than 86 percent of its flights arriving on time, the survey said. JetBlue was second. Alaska lost the fewest bags, followed by AirTran, while JetBlue had the fewest bumped passengers, followed by US Airways, according to the survey.

Atlantic Southeast, also included in the survey for the first time, had the worst on-time performance, bumped the most people and mishandled baggage at a rate nearly four times the industry average. Yet the number of its customers who filed complaints was lower than the average for all 14 airlines.

The carriers with the highest rates of passenger complaints were Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines. Southwest had the fewest complaints, with JetBlue right behind.

Full Story - CNN
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