• USA Today: Budget airlines offer most satisfaction

    2010-09-15

    Budget airlines offer travelers the best service and satisfaction, according to a new analysis of several surveys compiled by USA Today.

    The news source looked at customer satisfaction results from a number of sources dating back to 2004. The analysis took into account Transportation Department complaints, consumer surveys by J.D. Power and Zagat and a quality index devised by professors at Wichita State and Purdue. The trends showed that customers are generally more satisfied with low budget carriers like JetBlue, Hawaiian, Southwest and Frontier than they are with larger airlines like Delta, U.S. Airways, United and American.

    There are a variety of factors at play here, but one of the biggest is that smaller budget carriers have newer planes and lower labor costs, as compared to the older fleets and higher employee salaries at larger airlines. The large-scale operations mean that the bigger airlines "had to find ways to penny-pinch at the expense of customer satisfaction," according to Tim Zagat, creator of the Zagat survey.

    Many of the big airlines, seeing JetBlue and Southwest outearn them during the recession, are taking steps to improve their service and quality, according to the news source. U.S. Airways, for example, has reduced complaints by 50 percent since 2007, while Delta has hired an extra 1,000 employees dedicated to launching a new company-wide satisfaction initative.

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