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Airlines’ Customer Happiness Improving, But Still Low

The American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) annual survey is out, and for the second straight year, the airlines fared pretty well. OK, they didn’t do that well, but they did improve.

For background, the ACSI report “covers satisfaction with the quality of products and services provided by airlines, hotels, restaurants, fast food, and express delivery services.”

Here’s what the ASCI had to say about the airlines: “Passenger satisfaction with airlines improves for a second straight year, up 3% to an ACSI score of 66.  Still, airlines remain near the bottom of all industries in ACSI.  Lower passenger volume and relatively stable fuel prices are part of the satisfaction boost, but travelers are better at shopping for deals and avoiding fees.  More are opting for carry-ons rather than paying baggage fees.  In addition to the savings, this is also reducing the problems related to lost or damaged luggage.”

Basically, the industry hasn’t done much to actually improve service. Customers are simply better at dodging the airlines’ obnoxious fees and policies, some of which (bag fees) have accidentally fixed or improved existing passenger problems (lost baggage).

The ACSI gives individual scores to the six big legacy carriers (Northwest was included since the scores are for 2009) and Southwest, and includes an “All Others” categories for the rest of the industry. Southwest came out on top of this list.

Interestingly, the airlines’ overall Index score of 66 was well below the overall score for chain restaurants, hotels, fast food restaurants, express delivery services (FedEx, etc), and the U.S. Postal Service.

Readers, what do you think about these results? Do they mesh with your feelings about the airlines?

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