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JetBlue, Continental tops in airline satisfaction
JetBlue receives stellar numbers across the board, topping ratings in seven customer satisfaction categories.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Jet Blue, known for its swank seats and individual passenger televisions, ranks highest among low-cost carriers in customer satisfaction, says a survey being released Thursday.

JetBlue received stellar numbers across the board, topping the ratings in all seven customer satisfaction categories.


Findings from the study by J.D. Power Associates and Aviation Week magazine are based on responses from 9,334 passengers, who flew on a major North American airline this year between January and May.

Overall customer satisfaction with both low-cost and traditional, multi-cabin carriers was measured by seven factors, in order of importance: cost and fees; quality of flight crew, including courtesy and appearance; in-flight services, such as the availability of food and beverages; ease of check-in; timeliness of boarding, deplaning and baggage retrieval; aircraft features, such as adequate leg room; and quality of flight reservation services.

"The study finds that 'process' factors, such as check-in, how passengers board the plane and how baggage is delivered at the destination; and 'people' factors, such as hiring the right people and training and enabling them to be successful, are what differentiate carriers in the eyes of passengers," according to a written statement.

JetBlue (Charts) scored 81 points above the average for low-cost carriers, with an overall satisfaction index score of 820 of a possible 1,000 points - 81 points above the average among airlines that offer typically low fares.

Southwest Airlines (Charts) was a distant second, and Frontier Airlines was ranked at the bottom.

"JetBlue is true to its business model, in which it promises its passengers a comfortable seat with a television monitor, peanuts and service with a smile," said Linda Hirneise, executive director for travel at J.D. Power and Associates, in a written statement on the 2006 Airline Satisfaction Index Study.

"They've never offered services such as in-flight meals, but they make up for it with amenities passengers truly value and with their service," Hirneise said.

"All of the airlines are struggling operationally, but that doesn't mean that passengers have to suffer too," she added.

Among the multi-cabin airlines, Continental Airlines (Charts) was the highest-rated carrier, excelling in check-ins, in-flight service and cost and fee factors.

Delta Air Lines was a close second, and American Airlines was third. Air Canada was last among traditional carriers.

From CNN Assignment editor, Jonathan Schienberg.

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