Dissatisfied Fliers

We can surmise that air travelers aren’t happy about rising ticket prices and additional charges for not-so-special services. But a report from J.D. Power and Associates says these aren’t the chief factors pushing down customer satisfaction with airlines — now at its lowest level in three years. Rather, the primary sticking point is customer service, or lack thereof.

“The study finds that satisfaction with ‘people’ factors — including knowledge, courtesy and helpfulness of reservation and gate agents, check-in staff and flight crew — has declined dramatically since 2007, and is the leading contributing factor to the overall decline in customer satisfaction with airlines in 2008,” says the report.

Elsewhere in the study, 39 percent of respondents cited price as the main determinant in choosing an airline. Twenty-two percent said the airline’s awards program is the main factor.

Jet Blue had the highest customer-satisfaction rating in the current survey. Among traditional network carriers, Alaska Airlines and Continental Airlines scored highest.