Southwest Remains No. 1 for Airline Customer Satisfaction

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index's annual report on airlines, released this week, overall satisfaction is down, but Southwest Airlines (LUV) remained far and away at the top of the list with a score of 81 out of a possible 100. The No. 2 airline for customer satisfaction was Continental (CAL) with an overall score of 64. Southwest's rating rose 2.5%, but Continental's was down 9.9%.

The rating for the industry was 65, down 1.5% from last year. Airlines rank last in satisfaction among all industries measured by the ACSI.

American Airlines (AMR) posted a score of 63, followed by Delta (DAL) at 56, a 9.7% drop. "Airline mergers typically have a destructive effect on passenger satisfaction," said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference.

Baggage fees and fuel surcharges were among the primary causes for the drop in satisfaction.

Southwest is one of the youngest large airlines in the U.S., founded in 1971. The company's original CEO, Herb Kelleher, was a stickler for customer service. He encourage pilots to help load luggage and stewardesses to help clean planes. Kelleher, who
was active in the airline's management until 2008, would ride Southwest flights routinely to ask customers what they thought of the airline's service.

Southwest has probably done well with passengers because it was never involved in a huge merger. It has also remained something of a regional airline. It offers few overseas flights and generally avoids expensive routes into cities like New York. This has allowed it to limit exposure to airports which may have large and complex operations.

Delta's lower numbers probably reflect travelers' dissatisfaction with the results of its merger with Northwest, which was announced in 2008, and Continental's similar large drop likely stems from its marriage with United last year. Airlines often benefit from the cost savings brought about mergers. However, the layoffs that usually come with mergers, along with the issues of integrating two reservation systems and other complex business structures, can lead to the sort of snafus that give customers fits.



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48 Comments

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madddddddddddddd

IS THIS THE AIRLINE WITH THE PILOT THAT HATES THE CREWS?????????????

June 23 2011 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marian

I never had problems with Delta.... I will continue to fly with them....

June 21 2011 at 11:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tommygc

Cliffy934,please get off the southwest bandwagon.Im so happy that all vour experiences with Southwest were so wonderful,but as life really is all experiences don't have a happy ending.Get real....

June 21 2011 at 11:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tommygc's comment
cliffy934

Life is what you make of it.

June 21 2011 at 11:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hntrfmhades

Of course they are, add in that they don't steal money from their passengers disguised as baggage fees and fees for changing a flight, and the only thing that is missing is that they don't fly to and from more places. KUDOS FOR WINNING AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN SOUTHWEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 21 2011 at 9:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jamie

To rnoldz5 What do you know about a Union shop? do you think all employees should be treated like slaves? Ignorant people like you make me sick. Do you think any one of those CEO's at southwest dosent have a ironclad contract drawn up by lawyers guarantee what they can and cannot do. I think not. By the way Southwest IS UNION! The reason they have happy employees is because the UNIONS guarantee they get decent wages. They employees also have protection so during every little bump in the road they arent forced ridiculous paycuts while the management keeps getting richer. So Rnoldz know what your talking about you ignorant Moran!

June 21 2011 at 9:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
azwnaas

Southwest is #1 because they are on time, friendly, dependable, thankful for your business and don't nickel and dime their passengers.

June 21 2011 at 8:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ingasabine

That's why Southwest employees are so happy and that's why they pass that on to their customers.

June 21 2011 at 7:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ingasabine

Yes, Southwest Airlines employees are unionized. And they have great contracts to prove it. Their flight attendants make more money than anyone else in the industry.

June 21 2011 at 7:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rnoldz5

The reason SW is #1 is they are not a union shop. They are not guaranteed a job and therefore work for their business. Simple microchosim of what many other segments of our society should do.

June 21 2011 at 6:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rnoldz5's comment
hntrfmhades

SEEMS YOU HAVE BEEN FOUND TO BE WRONG, THE HONORABLE THING WOULD BE FOR YOU TO FIND A QUIET SPOT AND STUPID YOURSELF TO DEATH. TERMINAL DUMB IS YOUR GENETIC LOT IN LIFE.

June 21 2011 at 9:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ljs3448

I flew Southwest in February to go to my dying mother's bedside. I have never booked a flight before. I did it on my phone, in the car and I was very upset at the time. I booked my husband as a senior, which he was. I didn't know how to get the thing to go on if I didn't book both at the same time so I booked both together. When left to go home no one said a thing and I gave them my driver's license. When we went to the airport and Kansas City the lady said that I wasn't a senior. I said I know, but I didn't know how to fix it. I said I can pay the difference, which was only about $20 or so. She said no, you have to pay the whole fare. We had a very heated conversation in which I was totally hysterical in a very long line of people. A very very sweet young man tried to pay for mine but I wouldn't let him. The supervisor came over and was a total jerk to me. He got in my face and told me I should have known and pointed out on the screen what It said about the fares. I tried to explain but he treated me awful. Needless to say, I had to pay another $170.00 or so and that made my fare almost $450.00 one way. On top of losing my mother this was enough to make me very sick by the time I really got on the plane. I would never deal with these people again. I would gladly take any other form of transportation than to be treated like that again. Besides ,no airlines should be robbing the people like they all do.

June 21 2011 at 3:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ljs3448's comment
cliffy934

I would file a formal complaint with their corporate office. If you do not file a complaint, they will think everything is ok. It is always good to let any company know if you were not treated with respect. Their main office may not know their employee's acted this way, and if you don't tell them, again, they will think everything is ok.

June 21 2011 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hntrfmhades

AT LEAST YOU ADMIT TO BEING TOTALY HYSTERICAL, THEY SHOULD HAVE CALLED TSA AND HAD YOU ARRESTED. ACTUALLY YOU WAS TREATED ABOUT A GOOD AS YOU DEMANDED HYSTERICALLY. GOOD SERVICE CAN BE GIVING THE CUSTOMER EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT, AND IN YOUR CASE THEY DID THAT.

June 21 2011 at 9:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply