May 08, 2024

Top-Performing Airlines Set Themselves Apart with Friendly Staff, J.D. Power Finds

Delta Air Lines Ranks Highest in Two Segments; Southwest Airlines Ranks Highest in One Segment

With domestic air passenger volume up 9.4% year over year and seemingly no end in sight to crowded gates, stuffed overhead bins and expensive fares, airlines have their hands full trying to maintain customer satisfaction. According to the J.D. Power 2024 North America Airline Satisfaction Study,SM released today, big investments by airlines in staff training and efforts to improve the overall flight experience with friendly, attentive service are helping some airlines deliver great customer experiences—despite the crowds.

“There are many aspects to the overall air travel experience that airlines cannot control, but one area in which they can profoundly influence is the positive effect that airline staff has on passengers,” said Michael Taylor, senior managing director of travel, hospitality, retail and customer service. “The big takeaway from this year’s study is the power of people to positively influence the overall flight experience. Airlines that are investing in staff training and recruitment are finding ways to overcome the negative effects of crowded gates and planes simply by being nice to their customers.”

Following are some key findings of the 2024 study:

  • Passengers just want it to be easy and get there safely: With airfares still high following the pandemic lull in air travel, one might expect fares to play a larger role in passenger satisfaction, but the two biggest factors driving overall airline customer satisfaction are ease of travel and trust. While things like value for price paid are important, it is more important to passengers just to have a seamless flight.
  • Media coverage has major influence on trust scores: The level of trust airline passengers have in their airline is correlated to media coverage about that airline. Overall satisfaction scores for trust are 400 points lower (on a 1,000-point scale) among passengers who saw negative news coverage of an airline’s performance in the past year.
  • Investments in people pay off for top-performing carriers: The top-performing carriers in this year’s study—Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines—have made substantial investments in the people side of their business. These efforts are paying off in the form of significantly higher scores in all areas where interpersonal interactions can make a difference.

Study Rankings

Delta Air Lines
ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the first/business segment with a score of 743. JetBlue Airways (736) ranks second.

Delta Air Lines ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the premium economy segment for a second consecutive year, with a score of 716. Alaska Airlines (687) ranks second and American Airlines (684) ranks third.

Southwest Airlines ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the economy/basic economy segment for a third consecutive year, with a score of 685. Delta Air Lines (651) ranks second and Allegiant Air (633) ranks third.

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study was redesigned for 2024. It measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in seven core dimensions on a poor-to-perfect 6-point rating scale. Individual dimensions measured are (in alphabetical order): airline staff; digital tools; ease of travel; level of trust; on-board experience; pre/post-flight experience; and value for price paid. The study measures passenger satisfaction in three segments—first/business, premium economy and economy/basic economy. The 2024 study is based on responses from 9,582 passengers. Passengers needed to have flown on a major North America airline within the past month of completing a survey. The study was fielded from March 2023 through March 2024.


Premium Economy

Economy/Basic Economy

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