ATLANTA - US airlines lag hotels and online travel agencies in customer satisfaction as travellers face increasingly cramped aeroplanes and poor in-flight service, a poll published on Tuesday showed.
The annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) found that airlines scored 69 on a 100-point scale, compared with 75 for hotels and 77 for Internet travel agencies.
Though that grade was unchanged for air carriers from the year before, only subscription TV service, social media and Internet service ranked lower among other industries tracked.
The ACSI Travel Index is based on random interviews with more than 7,400 US customers of airlines, hotels and Internet travel websites from October 2013 to March 2014.
An annual report from researchers at Wichita State and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical universities found that while carriers overall had fewer passenger complaints, on-time performance and mishandled baggage rates worsened in 2013 from 2012.
Another study from the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that Spirit Airlines, American Airlines Group and United Continental ranked worst in terms of passenger complaints.
The ACSI study found that while airlines got high marks for the ease of check-in and reservation procedures, the onboard experience could be improved. Customers rated carriers low on the quality of in-flight service such as beverages, bathrooms and seat comfort.
Airlines with the highest satisfaction scores were JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines. United Continental had the worst score.
Hotels fared better than airlines in the index but lost stature as room rates went up. The overall hotel industry ranking of 75 was down from 77 in 2013. Customers don't feel hotel amenities have improved as prices have risen, ACSI managing director David VanAmburg said.