More Proof Airline Customers are Satisfied

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There's additional proof airline customers are more satisfied with commercial carriers than they have been in the past. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) says passenger satisfaction has improved for a second straight year.

ASCI says travelers gave airlines a cumulative score of 66 out of 100, up 3 percent. Airline customers, it says, are getting better at shopping for deals and avoiding fees, and more are opting for carry-on luggage rather than paying baggage fees – which in addition to saving travelers money is reducing problems related to lost or damaged luggage, making for happier passengers.

But ASCI says airlines still remain near the bottom of all industries they study, and warns the current good vibes between the carriers and passengers may be a short-lived thing.

"Airlines are creating more satisfied passengers, but ASCI data suggest this won't last long," says Claes Fornell, founder of ACSI, and a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
"Airlines are already beginning to charge higher fares. Flights are becoming more crowded, and the increasing number of carry-ons could lead to cabin congestion and delays," Fornell says.

He says other factors that could make customers less satisfied include potential fees for carry-ons and the proposed merger between United and Continental, which Fornell says "is likely to take a toll on passenger service at least in the short term."

On the ACSI scorecard, Southwest leads all carriers for a 17th straight year, although its customer satisfaction score actually dropped 2 percent to 79 out of 100. Continental also ranked high with a score of 71, up 4 percent over last year. American (63) and US Airways (62) show improvement (of 5 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively), while Delta takes a 3.1 percent dip, with a score of 6 While United shows 7.1 percent improvement, it still scored lower than the other major lines with a 60.

J.D. Power Associates similarly released results this month, as reported by AOL Travel, showing overall customer satisfaction with North American airlines improved last year.

Photo, randomduck, flickr
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