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May 14, 2014

Passengers are happier with airline service, new report shows

Travelers' satisfaction with airlines improved last year even as they pay more fees and higher fares.

According to a new J.D. Power study, passenger satisfaction rose to 712, up 17 points from 2013 on the 1,000 point scale. It is the second year in a row that travelers' happiness with airline service has improved.

"Passengers are over the sticker shock of being charged more to fly, having to pay for checked bags, expedited security clearance, or for preferred seating," said Rick Garlick, J.D. Power's global travel and hospitality practice executive.

However, airlines still trail hotels, rental cars, credit card companies and other industries when it comes to customer satisfaction.

"Satisfaction is improving, but it's a stretch to say passengers are truly happy," Garlick said.

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways both topped their industry categories with satisfaction scores of 737 and 789 respectively.

American Airlines ranked third in the traditional carrier segment, improving its score by 24 points to 684. Its merger partner, US Airways, ranked last in that segment, but increased its score the most of any carrier with a 26-point improvement.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines ranked second in the low-cost carrier segment and also improved its score by 8 points to 778.

The study also showed that 44 percent of passengers feel that checked bag fees are reasonable, up from 37 percent in 2013. Those passengers satisfaction score was 771, compared to 661 among passengers who felt that bag fees are unreasonable.

-Andrea Ahles



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