J.D. Power gives Frontier, AirTran below-average consumer grades

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Jun. 8--Mitchell International Airport's two busiest airlines were rated as below average in a new customer satisfaction survey released Tuesday by J.D. Power and Associates.

Frontier Airlines scored 688 on the survey, while AirTran Airways posted a score of 704. Both were below the average score of 735 on a 1,000-point scale for five low-cost carriers that were included in the survey.

JetBlue Airways, which doesn't serve Milwaukee, ranked as No. 1 among low-cost carriers, with a score of 764. Southwest Airlines, which began service from Mitchell International last fall, was ranked second, with a score of 742.

Among seven traditional carriers, Alaska Airlines was No. 1, with a score of 699 on a 1,000-point scale. Delta Air Lines, the third-largest carrier at Mitchell International, was ranked fourth in the survey of traditional carriers, at 640. The average score for those traditional carriers was 642.

Frontier was bought last year by Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which also bought Midwest Airlines, formerly based in Oak Creek. Republic is combining the Frontier and Midwest operations, and is phasing out the Midwest name.

The 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction of both business and leisure passengers. The study is based on responses from more than 12,300 passengers who flew on major North American airlines between April 2009 and April 2010. Midwest Airlines was not included in the survey.

The overall weighted average score of all 12 airlines surveyed was 673, compared to 658 in the 2009 survey; 668 in 2008; 687 in 2007 and 692 in 2006, said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of the J.D. Power global travel and hospitality practice.

The overall customer satisfaction score's improvement in 2010 might reflect changing expectations from passengers, who have become accustomed to such things as increased fees for checked bags and in-flight meals, Greif said. He also said lower fares and a better record of arrival times, both the result of lower demand for air travel, also were likely factors in the improved overall industry rating.

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On a scale of 1,000 in the customer satisfaction survey:

-- 688 -- Frontier Airlines score

-- 704 -- AirTran score

-- 735 -- Average score for low-cost carriers

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

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