It hasn’t been a good month for news about U.S. airlines. However, despite that persistent drumbeat of negative headlines, airline service is the best it’s been in years. At least that’s according to J.D. Power, which found soaring passenger-satisfaction levels in its annual customer-service survey of North American airlines for 2017.
“Our data shows that, as a whole, the airline industry has been making marked improvements in customer satisfaction across a variety of metrics, from ticket cost to flight crew,” Michael Taylor, travel practice lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement.
In the group’s 2017 survey, passengers’ happiness with service on U.S. and Canadian airlines continued to rise, hitting its highest mark ever since J.D. Power moved to its current survey format in 2006. The industry’s satisfaction score climbed to an average of 756 on a 1,000-point scale — a 30-point jump from the previous record high that was set just last year.
The improving overall scores continue a five-year trend in the J.D. Power survey. The gains for 2017 were seen across the board, rising in all of the customer-service factors rated in the survey.
Falling airfares, improved on-time performance and a decline in lost luggage were all cited for bolstering customer-service scores. Also improved in 2017, according to J.D. Power, were “historically low bump rates and high scores for flight crews.”
J.D. Power’s satisfaction scores are drawn from airlines’ performances in seven categories (in order of importance to the survey), cost and fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, check-in, and reservations.
The full methodology for the survey can be found at J.D. Power’s website, though the group says the results are based on responses from a combination of 11,015 business and leisure passengers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2016 and March 2017. The study was fielded between April 2016 and March 2017.
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