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Air passengers more satisfied despite higher costs

Airline passengers are more satisfied this year than in 2013 despite higher airfares and baggage fees.

In fact, passenger satisfaction reached a record high in the 2014 survey by J.D. Power.

“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.”

Airlines are making it easier to check in and adding services such as inflight wi-fi, helping take the sting out of the higher costs of air travel.

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“No doubt the airline industry is doing a better job of pleasing passengers, but there still is a lot of

room for improvement,” Garlick said, noting the hotel, rental car and credit card industries all rank higher in customer satisfaction surveys.

For passengers, some keys to satisfaction are how long it takes to get a boarding pass, how long they wait to get their luggages, and if all of their luggage arrives.

Chicago-based United Airlines ranked below average in overall customer satisfaction among traditional carriers. American Airlines was rated average, while U.S. Airways was a couple of points worse than United.

Southwest Airlines’s customer satisfaction was second among low-cost carriers, which was led by JetBlue.