Low Fare Airline Customer Satisfaction – Can They Co-Exist?

Spirit Airlines rated dead last in the most up-to-date travel report in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). JetBlue Airways claimed the top position from 2014 as the most satisfactory airline having a score of 81%, a 3% increase, as stated by the ACSI Travel Report 2015.* Low-fare carrier Southwest ranked three points below having scored a 78, in a holding pattern from last year’s score.

Low Fare Airlines and Customer Satisfaction

Airline customer satisfaction leader among low fare airlines

Spirit Airlines is famous (or infamous) because of its low-cost price structure that adds a wide array of fees for things like printing a boarding pass in the airport to carry on luggage. Spirit Representative Paul Berry stated that the simple fares of the carrier are an average 40% lower than other airlines. “Once they fly us once plus they get it, they love us; they learn the best way to navigate the Spirit manner of flying.”

On the plus side, the index revealed that overall passenger satisfaction is at the highest level since 1994. Factors contributing to this welcomed increase were in-flight services such as entertainment, wi-fi, and even more readily available food choices.  Lack of sufficient leg-room continues to be an area of continued frustration and consumer complaint the survey noted.

The three main US-based airlines, United, American, and Delta, remained in a holding pattern matching their previous year’s scores.  First-timers Spirit, Allegiant Air, Alaska Airlines, and Frontier were added to the index in 2013. Alaska debuted with a score of 75 at third and Frontier ranked only above Spirit having a score of 58.  Overall, the airline industry is doing a much better job and therefore lifting the whole sector’s satisfaction degree upward.

All in all, this survey exhibits the “You Get What You Pay For” pricing model.  What many travelers remain loyal to the usually amazing customer service that JetBlue and Southwest provide, there are others who desire (in some cases demand) First Class treatment.  The “Big Three” continue to entice and reward their frequent flyers with upgrades, various levels of airport perks, and now even auctions for miles.

Low Fare Airlines Final Approach

low-cost carrier airline

Travelers must weigh each travel factor before booking each trip.  Factor in cost, distance, routing, on-time arrivals/departure, and decide if the extra “add-on’s” of the low-fare carriers compensate for the lack of amenities, etc.  Safe Travels!

*The survey is based on answers from 7,768 professionals from the airline, resort, and travel agent industry.