Most and least favorite airlines among US passengers: 2024 survey

FILE - Delta planes at Terminal C of LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in the Queens borough of New York, US, on Sunday, April 7, 2024. Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Between costly airfares, crowded planes and sometimes unruly passengers, travelers don’t always love the experience of flying. But according to a new customer survey, some North American carriers do it better than others. 

The J.D. Power 2024 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, released Wednesday by the consumer data and analytics company, found that the airlines that have significantly invested in staff training and recruitment have found ways to improve the overall flight experience, despite the crowds. 

"There are many aspects to the overall air travel experience that airlines cannot control, but one area in which they can profoundly influence is the positive effect that airline staff has on passengers," Michael Taylor, J.D. Power's senior managing director of travel, hospitality, retail and customer service, said in a statement. 

The survey included responses from 9,582 passengers who had flown on a major North American airline within the past month of completing the survey. 

It was conducted between March 2023 and March 2024, and based on a 6-point rating scale on airline staff, digital tools, ease of travel, level of trust, the on-board experience, the pre- / post-flight experience, and value for price paid. 

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Passenger satisfaction is divided into three categories: first/business, premium economy and economy/basic economy. 

Here’s how the airlines ranked, according to customers:

Passengers’ top 2024 airlines: First/Business

Delta Air Lines ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the first/business segment with a score of 743, according to J.D. Power’s survey. 

JetBlue Airways (736) ranked second.

  1. Delta Air Lines (743)
  2. JetBlue Airways (736)
  3. Segment average (701)
  4. United Airlines (698)
  5. Alaska Airlines (695)
  6. American Airlines (676)
  7. Air Canada (629)

Passengers’ top 2024 airlines: Premium Economy

Delta again ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the premium economy segment for a second consecutive year, with a score of 716, J.D. Power’s survey found. 

Alaska Airlines (687) ranked second, and American Airlines (684) ranked third.

  1. Delta Air Lines (716)
  2. Alaska Airlines (687)
  3. American Airlines (684)
  4. Segment average (675)
  5. JetBlue Airways (667)
  6. WestJet (664)
  7. United Airlines (641)
  8. Air Canada (628)

Passengers’ top 2024 airlines: Economy/Basic Economy

For the economy/basic economy category of flying, Southwest Airlines ranked highest in customer satisfaction for a third consecutive year, with a score of 685, according to the survey. 

Delta (651) ranked second and Allegiant Air (633) ranked third.

  1. Southwest Airlines (685)
  2. Delta Air Lines (651)
  3. Allegiant Air (663)
  4. Alaska Airlines (630)
  5. JetBlue Airways (613)
  6. Segment average (613)
  7. American Airlines (611)
  8. WestJet (591)
  9. United Airlines (585)
  10. Air Canada (542)
  11. Spirit Airlines (507)
  12. Frontier Airlines (472)

Other takeaways from the 2024 passenger survey

Overall, the survey found that the two biggest factors driving overall airline customer satisfaction are ease of travel and trust, according to J.D. Power. 

"While things like value for price paid are important, it is more important to passengers just to have a seamless flight," the company said. 

Investments in staff also pay-off when it comes to customer satisfaction. The top-performing carriers in this year’s survey — Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines —have made substantial investments in the people side of their business, according to J.D. Power. 

Lastly, media coverage has major influence on trust scores, the company said. 

"The level of trust airline passengers have in their airline is correlated to media coverage about that airline," J.D. Power said. "Overall satisfaction scores for trust are 400 points lower (on a 1,000-point scale) among passengers who saw negative news coverage of an airline’s performance in the past year."

This story was reported from Cincinnati.