Alaska Airlines and JetBlue Airways: Highest Customer Satisfaction in North America

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What is the most important service to earn customer satisfaction?

Well, if the results of the J.D. Power & Associates 2013 North American Airline Satisfaction Study are anything to go by, the answer to that question could be as simple as smiling at your customers.

The study surveyed 11,800 passengers who flew a major North American Airline between April 2012 and March 2013, and released the results yesterday. Airlines were ranked on a 1000-point scale. The segment average for traditional airlines was 663 points and for low-cost airlines was 755 points.

The company reports that overall airline satisfaction has improved since the annual study started in 2006. This year’s winners were JetBlue Airways in the low-cost sector and Alaska Airlines in the traditional sector.

Key findings in the study noted that customers are more satisfied with more advanced technological services such as online and mobile check-in, personal screens and in-flight wifi. It also noted that, although baggage fees continue to be the main source of customer dissatisfaction  people are slowly coming to accept the charges. Nearly 10 percent more people than last year indicated that baggage check-in charges are reasonable.

However, the largest factor in customer satisfaction by far was whether staff regularly smiled at passengers or not. Despite the fact that passengers appear to have less and less interaction with airline staff, interaction between passengers and staff is by far the highest contributor to customer satisfaction.

The study reports a 105 point difference between those who are greeted by staff with a smile some of the time and those who don’t receive a smile at all. The gap widens to a whopping 211 points between passengers who are consistently greeted with a smile and those who never receive a smile.

The results:

 Traditional Airlines                                                                                                      

1. Alaska Airlines (717)
2. Delta Air Lines (682)
3. Air Canada (671)
4. American Airlines (660)
5. United Airlines (641)                                                                                                          

Low Cost Airlines

1. JetBlue Airways (787)
2. Southwest Airlines (770)
3. WestJet (714)
4. Frontier Airlines (708)
5. AirTran Airlines (705)