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Newsflash: People Like the Air Travel Experience Less Than They Did

Customer service miscues and higher fares have resulted in a drop in airline customer satisfaction, according to a national index that measures customer satisfaction in various industries.

The airlines got a 73 on a scale of 100, down 2.7 percent from last year on the American Customer Satisfaction Index 2018 Travel Report.

Most airlines saw satisfaction decline. Exceptions included Southwest, which remained steady as the highest rated airline at 80 points. Alaska Airlines, which also saw its satisfaction increase, was the second best in the survey after a merger with Virgin American.

The biggest jump of the year was at Allegiant, which saw its satisfaction go up 4 points to 74. That may not help the airline deal with fallout, however, from a recent 60 Minutes report that called into question the airline’s safety and highlighted mechanical issues.

American, Delta and United were all down year over year in satisfaction, as was Frontier.

Spirit saw its rating go up 2 percent, but it remained in a tie for the lowest rated airline in the index.

“The 18-point gap between first place and last place among airlines is fairly typical,” said David VanAmburg, Managing Director at ACSI. “Customer satisfaction is going to be lower for the ultra-low-cost carriers, which are focused more on price than quality, and the scores reflect that.”

Most aspects of flying were rated less satisfactory than they were a year ago, with lower scores for reservations, crew courtesy and baggage handling. Comfort also continued to get bad marks, going down 3 percent, the biggest drop of any of the elements of flying the index measured. The exception: the airline check-in process, which remained the same.

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