Low-Cost Airlines Outperform Majors in Latest Rankings

Low-Cost Airlines Outperform Majors in Latest Rankings
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According to a recent North America airline satisfaction study by J.D. Power and Associates, low-cost airlines are outperforming the major airlines in overall consumer satisfaction.

In fact, low-cost carriers have improved on customer satisfaction for three consecutive years, rising another three index points from 2011 to an average of 754. The traditional 'legacy' carriers declined four points to 647.

According to the results of the study, the airline industry as a whole is struggling to balance satisfying customers who demand low prices and high-quality service while facing the challenge of being profitable.

Carriers also often feel that they cannot significantly increase published fares, since consumers generally choose flights based on the lowest fare. While adding fees for checked bags have helped improve airlines' bottom lines, consumers often feel blindsided by the extra fees.

All additional fees aside, the study found that customer service, including the politeness and friendliness of the airline staff, plays the biggest role in determining whether a consumer would choose to fly the same airline again.

Alaska Airlines ranks the highest among the traditional major airlines in overall customer satisfaction.

JetBlue Airways ranks the highest among the low-cost carriers. This is seventh consecutive year that JetBlue has topped the list. Southwest Airlines, which also has excellent overall satisfaction ratings, came in a close second.