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Delta, Southwest Lead in 2024 J.D. Power Airline Satisfaction Study

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Brett Holzhauer
Brett Holzhauer's image

Brett Holzhauer

Content Contributor

19 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 22U.S. States Visited: 29

Brett is a personal finance and travel junkie. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, he's had over 100 credit cards and earned millions of credit card rewards.
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3236 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Delta and Southwest are leading the industry for customer satisfaction in their respective categories, according to the J.D. Power 2024 North America Airline Satisfaction Study. The former earned the highest rating in first/business as well as premium economy. Southwest beat out Delta in the economy segment.

This study comes on the heels of even more travelers headed to airports and simultaneously even higher consumer complaints. The study noted that domestic air passenger volume is up 9.4% year-over-year, even with a grievance filled in 2023 from flyers.¹ Because of this, airlines have invested even more in staff training and the flight experience.

Here’s what you need to know about the study and how you can potentially improve your own flight experience.

The Customer Is Always Right

In our social media world, a bad airline interaction can quickly become the next viral TikTok video, leading some to choose another airline for their next adventure. But more than ever, customers want to align with brands based on their expectations. A 2023 study noted that 88% of U.S. consumers want to engage with brands that are setting new standards in meeting their expectations.

The J.D. Power 2024 North America Airline Satisfaction Study measured customer satisfaction in 7 core categories:

  • Airline staff
  • Digital tools
  • Ease of travel
  • Level of trust
  • Onboard experience
  • Pre/post-flight experience
  • Value for price paid

The study surveyed 9,582 passengers and divided the airlines into 3 product lines: first/business, premium economy, and economy/basic economy. The top 5 airlines for each category are:

First/Business:

  • Delta Air Lines (743)
  • Jetblue Airways (736)
  • Segment average (701)
  • United Airlines (698)
  • Alaska Airlines (695)
  • American Airlines (676)

Premium Economy:

  • Delta Air Lines (716)
  • Alaska Airlines (687)
  • American Airlines (684)
  • Segment average (675)
  • Jetblue Airways (667)
  • Westjet (664)

Economy/Basic Economy:

  • Southwest Airlines (685)
  • Delta Air Lines (651)
  • Allegiant Air (633)
  • Alaska Airlines (630)
  • Jetblue Airways (630)
  • Segment average (613)

How To Make Your Next Flight Experience Better

As someone who flies multiple airlines roughly 50 times per year, I’ve seen excellent and flat-out awful customer service and flight experiences. However, I find much of our flight experience is up to us as travelers to make the most of it.

Here are a few tips to consider for your next flight:

Get Global Entry

No one enjoys standing in long airport security lines. So, whether you fly regularly or seldomly, I cannot recommend enough applying for a security clearance program. My personal favorite is Global Entry, as it comes with all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck and is only $100 for 5 years — although the price is increasing in October.

However, you can avoid paying this fee as several travel credit cards that offer a Global Entry enrollment fee credit, including the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Hot Tip:

If you have multiple credit cards offering enrollment credits, you can offer them to friends or family. All they need to do is use your credit card for payment at the end of the application.

Choose To Go With a Carry on Versus Checked Bag

This is a contentious topic among travelers, but as someone who travels solely with a backpack, I’m very much on the side of a carry-on. It allows for much more seamless travel as you don’t need to account for time to check a bag or the airline losing/damaging your bag.

Moreover, you can avoid paying for a checked bag as airlines such as Alaska, American, and JetBlue continue to increase their fees.

However, if you swear by checking a bag, consider grabbing a co-branded credit card from your preferred airline. Many airline credit cards offer free checked bags to cardholders.

Final Thoughts

After a few turbulent years initiated by the pandemic, airlines have been much more thoughtful about their customer experience. Because of this, airlines are battling to win market share through customer experience.

Delta and Southwest are leading their respective categories after investing billions, but competitors are tight on their heels to take market share.

The information regarding the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

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About Brett Holzhauer

Brett is a personal finance and travel junkie. Based out of Fort Lauderdale, he’s had over 100 credit cards and earned millions of credit card rewards. He learned the tricks of the trade from his mom, and has taken many steps forward. He wasn’t exposed to much travel as a kid, but now has a goal of reaching 100 countries in his life. In 2019, he sold all of his possessions to become a digital nomad, and he says it was one of the best decisions he ever made. He plans to do it again at some point in his life.

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