Delta Air Lines earned the top rating in the J.D. Power North American Airline Satisfaction Study for the first time in more than two decades, while overall customer satisfaction with airlines rose due to easing ticket restrictions and flight crew performance.
The study, based on responses from more than 2,300 passengers who traveled from August 2020 through March 2021, showed overall satisfaction improved by 27 points year over year to 819 on a 1,000-point scale. Delta earned the top score of 860 and also had the highest score in half of the eight criteria in the study: flight crew, aircraft, in-flight service and baggage claim. Other criteria include boarding, check in, costs and fees and reservations.
This marks the first time Delta has held the top slot in the survey since 1995, according to J.D. Power. In the 2020 study, Delta ranked third for long-haul flights and fourth for short-haul flights.
Overall satisfaction with flight crews was up 26 points year over year, and the category was one of Delta’s strongest, outscoring its nearest competitor by 11 points in that category, according to J.D. Power.
“Delta’s in-flight crew performed exceptionally well with its passengers in 2020 and 2021, getting significantly high scores in friendliness, courtesy and attentiveness to passenger needs,” according to J.D. Power travel practice lead Michael Taylor. “In a particularly difficult year, Delta’s people adapted to the challenges of new procedures and passenger concerns and did so with high marks from its customers.”
Overall satisfaction with costs and fees was up 47 points year over year in the study, reflecting flexibility with waivers and elimination of change fees in the face of fluid flight plans during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Southwest Airlines, which was the top carrier in J.D. Power’s 2020 study, scored second-highest this year and trailed Delta by only four points. Alaska Airlines and JetBlue also had scores above the industry average, as they did in last year’s study.