Airline Customer Satisfaction Up Despite Higher Prices

May 14--Travelers' satisfaction with airlines improved last year even as people paid more fees and higher fares.

On a 1,000-point scale, passenger satisfaction rose to 712, up 17 points from 2013, J.D. Power said Wednesday. It's the second year in a row that happiness with airline service improved.

"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," Rick Garlick, J.D. Power's global travel and hospitality practice executive, said in a statement.

However, airlines still trail hotels, rental cars, credit cards and other industries when it comes to customer satisfaction.

"Satisfaction is improving, but it's a stretch to say passengers are truly happy," Garlick said.

Alaska Airlines led the traditional carriers with a satisfaction score of 737, and JetBlue Airways topped its discount peers with a 789.

American Airlines ranked third among traditional carriers, improving by 24 points to 684. Its merger partner, US Airways, ranked last in that segment but increased its score the most of any carrier -- by 26 points.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines ranked second in the low-cost-carrier segment and improved its score by eight points to 778.

The study also showed that 44 percent of passengers feel that checked-bag fees are reasonable, up from 37 percent in 2013. The satisfaction score for those passengers was 771, compared with 661 among those who feel that bag fees are unreasonable.

Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk

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