Last updated: 11:07 AM ET, Thu June 02 2016

Which Airline Has The Best Overall Customer Experience?

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | June 02, 2016

Which Airline Has The Best Overall Customer Experience?

Illustration courtesy of Thinkstock

According to the 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines and Southwest deliver the best customer experience in the airline industry. 

Best airlines for customer experience 

Southwest Airlines was the top rated brand in the industry. Overall, the survey looked at 20 different industries and 294 companies. Southwest placed 52 overall. Since 2011, the first year the Experience Ratings was published, Southwest has taken the top spot amongst airlines every year except for 2015, when JetBlue earned a higher score.

This year, JetBlue and Alaska tied for 135th place overall. Southwest’s positive experience rating was 75 percent. ‘Blue and Alaska each scored 62 percent. 

In all, nine airlines were rated this year by the 10,000 consumers who took part in the Temkin survey.

Spirit Airlines was the lowest ranked of the nine carriers. It had a 40 percent score and came in at 284th place. Delta, American and United scored 59, 52, and 51 percent respectively. 

READ MORE: New Survey Lists Alaska and JetBlue as Top North American Airlines

What do these scores mean? 

Temkin asked the survey participants to rate their most recent experiences with a company based on three criteria: success, effort and emotion. Success measures how easy the company makes it for a consumer to do what they want to do. Effort focuses on how streamlined the customer experience is and emotion attempts to measure how consumers feel about the interaction. These three variables are then averaged to give one total score, which is listed as a percentage. 

According to Temkin, a score of 80 percent is considered excellent and 70 percent is considered good. Among airlines, only Southwest scored in the "good" range. 

How did the airline industry fare overall?

Interestingly, no airline improved on their score this year compared to 2015. When all the airline scores are combined, the average for the industry is 56 percent. That is a significant decrease compared to 2015, when the combined score was 63 percent. 

Some of the other industries included in the survey were supermarkets, hotels, restaurant chains, banks and wireless carriers. Overall, airlines finished 12th out of the 20 different industries. 

Obviously, fliers are still frustrated with airlines, but it is difficult to measure the level of frustration when comparing air travel to other industries. Travel is often more of a necessity than eating at a fast food restaurant, for example. When it comes to banking or retailers, there are often many options to choose from, while fliers are lucky if they have more than two airlines to choose from on a given route. 

However, the survey does show that airlines have room for improvement and fliers are less happy with the product they are being offered this year than they were last year. 


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