Secure your bags and buckle up — the best and worst airlines of 2017 have been announced. The American Customer Satisfaction Index's (ACSI) Travel Report is out, and the results might change where you book your next flight.
Leading the pack in customer satisfaction are discount carriers like JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska. Lower ticket costs, no hidden fees and a better track record for overbooked flight compensation were major draws that upped airline rankings here. And surely, extra peanuts and a singing flight staff doesn't hurt.
The Top 5 Best Airlines of 2017
At the bottom of the satisfaction list are ultra low-cost carriers Spirit and Frontier. Bare-bones fares come with added baggage (though not the literal kind) for both airlines: extra check-in, boarding and luggage fees.
Third-worst overall and the last-place legacy carrier is United. It's worth noting: The ACSI results were based on customer interviews ending in March 2017 — before the company's mishandling of an overbooked flight made headlines.
The same goes for Delta, which experienced a cascade of storm-related cancellations in April, estimated at $125 million in lost revenue.
The 5 Worst Airlines of 2017
5. All other smaller carriers
Overall, customer satisfaction for airlines inched up by 4.2% from the previous year, earning a 75 on a 100-point scale. However, that C-grade average still puts it in the bottom third of industries tracked by the ACSI, which includes service providers across retail, health care, restaurants, manufacturing and others.
“Customer satisfaction has never appeared to be a goal for airlines,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder, in a release. “Compared to other industries, the financial return on passenger satisfaction is not much of an incentive. The exception is in the few airports where airlines actually compete with one another – or when they treat passengers spectacularly badly in public.”
That said, if you want a relatively tolerable flight experience, consider booking your next getaway with these carriers — and avoid the ones that'll nickel and dime you before you take off (if you ever do).