Fliers give airlines good marks

Airlines are charging more fees and cramming more passengers into airplanes, but fliers don’t appear to be bothered, according to a report released Wednesday by J.D. Power.

The company’s 2014 North America Airline Satisfaction Study measured several North American passenger airlines on seven factors: cost and fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservations.

Costs and fees for flying are increasing, but respondents actually reported feeling slightly better about flying this year than they did in 2013.

The average score was 712 (on a 1,000-point scale), a 17-point increase over last year.

“It isn’t that passengers are satisfied with fees, it’s that they are simply less dissatisfied because they realize that fees have become a way of life with air travel,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power.

“Passengers are over the sticker shock of being charged more to fly, having to pay for checked bags, expedited security clearance or for preferred seating.”

This year, 44 percent of respondents said they think checked baggage fees are reasonable, up from 37 percent last year.

Airlines are trying to dull the price pain of flying by adding value elsewhere, such as easier check-in processes, Garlick said.

Airlines still trail hotels and rental cars in customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power. The Westlake Village, Calif.-based company provides market research for clients.

Passengers gave low-cost carriers much higher marks — an average of 763 — than they did traditional carriers, which received an average score of 683.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines received a score of 737, the highest ranking among the traditional carriers. New York-based JetBlue Airways led low-cost carriers with 789.

The study was conducted between April 2013 and March 2014 and is based on responses from 11,370 passengers who flew on a major North America airline between March 2013 and March 2014.

Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; dcatchpole@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.

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