This Airline Was Just Rated No. 1 for Customer Satisfaction

Updated: May 15, 2023

The winner might surprise you.

It’s been a tough year for air travel—delays and cancellations became far more commonplace for many airlines, and flight ticket prices continued to climb. But, one airline still managed to receive top marks for customer satisfaction from a recent survey from J.D. Power.

Which airlines are tops in customer satisfaction?

Passengers deplane from a Southwest Airlines flightRobyn Beck/Getty Images

Despite a year in which mass holiday cancellations plagued Southwest Airlines, the company still retained its good reputation among flyers. In the most recent J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study, Southwest ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the economy/basic economy segment for the second consecutive year. Delta and JetBlue followed at numbers two and three, respectively.

J.D. Power looks at airline customer satisfaction in three different categories: first/business; premium economy; economy/basic economy. While Southwest took top honors in economy/basic economy, JetBlue Airways ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the first/business segment for a second consecutive year. Delta Air Lines ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the premium economy segment.

However, the survey also found that overall customer satisfaction continues to decline, driven largely by the cost of airfare. Overall passenger satisfaction is 791 (on a 1,000-point scale), down 7 points from a year ago. This is the second consecutive year of declining passenger satisfaction, following a 22-point drop in 2022.

Why is customer satisfaction low among flyers?

Travelers wait in line before they are allowed to search for their luggage in a baggage holding area for Southwest Airlines at Denver International Airport Michael Ciaglo/Stringer/Getty Images

The biggest factor driving this year’s decline in satisfaction is cost and fees. From the customer’s perspective, “planes are crowded, tickets are expensive and flight availability is constrained. While these drawbacks have not yet put a dent in leisure travel demand, if this trend continues, travelers will reach a breaking point and some airline brands may be damaged,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

Budget airlines are feeling the pinch most. Annual declines in passenger satisfaction are most pronounced in the economy/basic economy segment where price-conscious passengers have found fewer airfare bargains this year. Satisfaction with cost and fees in this segment is down 19 points from a year ago.

Surprisingly, one of the few areas showing improvement for airlines is food and beverage, which is up 12 points overall from 2022. Perhaps airline food is finally improving at long last?