Airline Passenger Dissatisfaction is on the Rise, Survey Finds (POLL)

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Airline Passenger Dissatisfaction is on the Rise Finds Survey

Associated Press

Airline passengers continue to be dissatisfied with the quality of their travel, according to a report from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The survey, which also ranked customer satisfaction in other service industries on a scale of 0-100, found that airline passenger satisfaction dropped by 1.5% to a score of 65. This score ties the airline industry with the newspaper industry as the most disappointing sectors ACSI rates.

Baggage fees are to blame according to the survey. Those who shell out for their luggage charted a satisfaction score of 58 compared to 68 for those flying fee free. Business travelers are an unhappy lot as well with only a 61 rating.

"We're seeing customers experiencing overall costs going up, but the experience is not getting better," David VanAmburg, managing director for ACSI, told MSNBC. "It's going to create a more disgruntled public."

At the head of the pack, Southwest Airlines (with no fees for the first two checked bags) has held top ranking for the past 18 years. Its score rose this year 2% to 81. The next best-ranked airline is Continental, but it lags far behind the discount competitor with a score of 64. And, that's a drop from last year.

American Airlines stayed constant with a 63 score, and US Airways and United both came in with scores of 61. Delta sat at the bottom of the heap with a score of 56.

Perhaps now is not the best time for airlines to be fighting back against those new Department of Transportation rules.

For Continental and Delta, mergers might be to blame for the low scores.

"In 2005, US Airways fell 8% to an industry low following its merger with America West, and now Delta falters in the same way," said ACSI founder Claes Fornell in a press release. "Past experience points to more customer satisfaction challenges ahead for United and raises the question of whether Southwest can escape customer satisfaction problems from its acquisition of Air Tran in May."

The survey did have good news for the hotel and food service industries. Customer satisfaction with hotels rose 2.7% to a score of 77. Full service restaurants saw a 1.2% bump to a score of 82, while fast food restaurants' rankings jumped 5.3% to a score of 79.

See the survey results at ACSI's website.


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