Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two, Two, Two Best Airlines

We just saw two Tweets on Twitter – one from jetBlue that said, “Woot! Thank you all so much! J.D. Power and Associates ranked us top in Customer Satisfaction for the 5th time,” and the other from Alaska Airlines that said, “Thank you! Highest in customer satisfaction among traditional carriers in North America 2 yrs in a row!”

At first quick glance, we were confused, two “highest/top” ratings? Then, we looked more closely – Alaska did say “...among traditional carriers.” So we went to the J.D. Power press release, and saw that indeed, both statements were accurate: Alaska was tops in the Traditional Network Carrier Segment, and jetBlue tops in the Low-Cost Carrier Segment.

What’s interesting are the actual numbers. We assume (which often gets us in trouble) that the metrics were the same for each category. If so, ALL the low-cost carriers had a higher numerical score – and therefore were rated better – than the BEST traditional carrier (Alaska). This isn’t to pick on Alaska – we really like the airline – but it shows one huge reason that the low-cost operators are successful. Wake up Big Guys, it’s not (just) the ticket price of the upstarts that attracts consumers, it’s actual SERVICE.

Yes, we know that’s a strange concept, but as J.D. Power notes, “...overall customer satisfaction with airlines in 2009 has declined for a third consecutive year to a four-year low.”

For the record, the low-cost carriers, in order from the top, were: jetBlue, Southwest, WestJet, Frontier, and Air Tran. The traditional carriers, again in order, were: Alaska, Continental, Delta, Air Canada, American, Northwest, United, and US Airways