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Airline Satisfaction is a Real Thing

Older travelers are usually less satisfied with their airline travel experience than younger travelers, the J.D. Power survey finds.

| BY Kent McDill

Doing an “airline satisfaction” survey might be a daunting task. It might be much easier to do an “airline dissatisfaction” survey.

But J.D. Power & Associates does surveys for a living, and faced the challenge of discussing different levels of passenger satisfaction among airlines operating out of North America.

The J.D. Power 2015 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, released in mid-May, measures passenger satisfaction based on cost and fees, in-flight services, boarding/deplaning/baggage, flight crew, aircraft, check-in, and reservation services.

Beyond overall satisfaction, airlines passengers were asked how they make their decisions on what airline to choose. The results show that passengers who choose airlines based on the quality of services rendered rather than on cost are far more likely to be satisfied with the service they receive. On a 1,000-point scale, the satisfaction of flights chosen due to customer service rated at 812 while those chosen due to cost rated out at 732.

JetBlue finished the highest among all airlines with a score of 801. This marks the 11th year JetBlue has won the overall competition, and recorded a noted improvement in both reservation and boarding/deplaning/baggage. Southwest Airlines finished second at 781.

Among traditional airlines (not including the low cost airlines like JetBlue and Southwest), Alaska Airlines had the highest ranking, and did so for the eighth consecutive year. Its overall score was at 719, in part because it scored well in all seven categories. Delta Airlines ranked second (709) and American Airlines ranked third (700).

Satisfaction is growing among passengers who pay for checked baggage, reaching 700 in 2015 from a level of 637 in 2011. Overall satisfaction among travelers with status in an airline loyalty or rewards program was rated at 737, while those with no membership at all rated their experience at 696.

The study was fielded between April 2014 and March 2015 with responses from more than 11,000 passengers.

“Many airlines realize that they are not in a commodity business and that hospitality and service go a long way in differentiating them from the other airlines,” said J.D. Power global travel and hospitality practice leader Rick Garlick. “Hospitality and service impact loyalty and return on investment with a high percentage of loyal passengers who are better advocates for the airline.”


About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.