Airlines' performance improves, lags other industries: U.S. poll

Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:16am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

(Reuters) - U.S. consumers are more satisfied with airlines in recent years but the industry still gets relatively low marks, mainly due to the onboard experience, according to a new customer poll released on Tuesday.

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which surveys some 70,000 U.S. customers annually on more than 40 industries ranging from apparel and hospitals to banks and insurance, found only television and internet service providers ranked lower.

ACSI found that full service and fast food restaurants, hotels and shipping companies provided consumers with a better experience.

But ACSI said airlines were making progress, with a ranking of 69 on a 100-point scale, up three percent from 67 last year for their best marks in nearly two decades.

Discount airlines won the best grades, with JetBlue atop the list for a second straight year, up two percent to 83, followed by Southwest, which rose five percent to 81. Major airlines trailed far behind in the upper or low 60s.

"Airlines continue to improve service for business travelers," said survey founder and chairman Claes Fornell.

Certain aspects of air travel were rated far better than others, notably reservations and check-in, both of which can be done online, timeliness, baggage handling and crew courtesy.

But in-flight services and comfort scored low grades.   Continued...

A passenger plane approaches to land as other aircraft taxi to the runway at the San Diego International Airport in San Diego, California, April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Blake