JetBlue and Southwest are the best, Spirit is the worst in customer satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction Index Reveals Top and Lowest Ranking Airlines

Airlines made significant improvements in customer satisfaction last year — but customers still don't like them very much.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which measures customers' experiences with different companies, released their 2016 findings on Tuesday. Although airline satisfaction is at an all-time high, it still lingers as one of the lowest industries the index ranks.

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"Airlines have always been one of the lowest-scoring industries in the ACSI because the in-flight experience was miserable," Claes Fornell, founder and chairman of ACSI, said in a statement.

But this year, many airlines made considerable leaps in customer satisfaction rankings. In ashocking revelation, the airlines are discovering that a better in-flight experience leads to higher passenger satisfaction.

The top-rated airlines for customer satisfaction were JetBlue and Southwest, while American, Frontier and Spirit made significant leaps in customer satisfaction ratings this year.

The complete rankings for the major airlines:

JetBlue and Southwest - 80%

Alaska - 77%

American - 72%

Delta - 71%

United - 68%

Frontier - 66%

Allegiant - 65%

Spirit - 62%

As ticket prices fall, customers feel they are getting a better value for their money, according to ACSI. Meanwhile, more planes are arriving on time than ever before, American and United brought back free snacks for economy passengers, and several airlines have expanded in-flight entertainment options.

"New planes, more options for in-flight entertainment, and the return of free snacks have resulted in higher passenger satisfaction," Fornell said.

Total customer satisfaction for airlines increased 4.3% in 2016, matching the all-time high of 72%, a record set in 1994.

But 72% is still low when compared to other services and industries: Hotels have a 74% satisfaction rating and online travel companies satisfied 79% of customers.

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