The annually released study — which looked at responses from nearly 6,000 passengers who flew on a major North American airline between March 2018 and March 2019 — compared low-cost and traditional carriers on 7 factors: cost and fees; in-flight services; aircraft; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; check-in; and reservation. American companies dominated the list.
The Seattle-based airline outpaced its competitors by a wide berth, scoring 801 points out of 1,000. The second-best in the traditional carrier category was Delta Air Lines (DAL), which scored 788, followed by American Airlines (AAL) at 764. The segment average was 763.
“Airlines continue to deliver on the operational side of air travel,” J.D. Power Travel Intelligence Lead Michael Taylor said in a press release. “New technology investments have dramatically improved the reservation and check-in process. Fleets are newer and travelers generally feel that they are getting great value for their money.”
Alaska’s win is consistent with other airline rankings, which also credit the airline’s low rate of cancelled flights and low number of accidents.
Delta comes in second place for America’s best airlines
Overall, airline passengers’ satisfaction with all the airlines improved by 11 points to 773, which continued an 8-year trend, primarily driven by traditional carriers, “whose segment satisfaction score improves 22 points from 2018,” the study noted.
Within the 7 factors used to rank the airlines, passengers were most satisfied with “the reservation and check-in experiences” across airlines, a result attributed to “investments in digital check-in technologies, self-service kiosks and a concerted effort among airlines to improve the efficiency of the pre-flight process.”
But one “stumbling block” was in-flight service, such as “seatback entertainment, food service and Wi-Fi.”
Passengers reported comparatively high levels of dissatisfaction with that sector, hence it was the “lowest-ranked part of the air traveler experience.”
Canada-based Air Canada (729) and low-cost carrier WestJet (758) fell below the airline average.
JetBlue and Southwest share best low-cost carrier title
Southwest in particular was enjoying its third consecutive year at the top of the low-cost ranking.
Taylor also clarified with Yahoo Finance that the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets did not affect the outcome of the survey as it happened towards the end of the time period, and additionally, most of the fleets involved didn’t fly that aircraft except for a select few like Southwest.
Nevertheless, both JetBlue and Southwest scored 817 points, beating out competitors like WestJet, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
But overall passenger satisfaction with low-cost carriers declined by 6 points from last year, “driving a segment convergence in satisfaction,” the report noted.
Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.