When it comes to four key performance factors tied to customer satisfaction, American-based airlines appear to be heading in the right direction, according to preliminary results of the Airline Quality Rating (AQR), the longest running, most comprehensive study of the performance quality of the 12 largest airlines in the United States.
Full results of the 27th annual AQR, which is conducted by researchers Dr. Dean Headley at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz., campus, will be announced at 9:30 a.m. EDT April 10, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Key findings so far show that all four AQR factors – on-time performance, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled bags and customer complaints – improved for the airline industry in 2016.
“Some exciting news emerging from this most recent AQR is that airlines are listening to their customers and addressing the issues they care about,” said Dr. Headley, Associate Professor of Marketing Research at Wichita State. “There is across-the-board improvement in key factors directly impacting the traveling public’s interaction and experience with airlines.”
This year’s report also reveals the lowest rate of bumped passengers for the industry and the lowest rate of mishandled baggage for the industry since the AQR started in 1991.
The AQR findings cover the 2016 calendar year and rate the following airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, ExpressJet, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit, United and Virgin America (last year’s No. 1 overall airline). In 2016, Virgin America announced a merger with Alaska.
“It will be interesting to see how the Virgin America-Alaska merger will pan out moving forward,” said Dr. Bowen, Embry-Riddle Prescott’s Dean of the College of Aviation. “But in the end, airlines with a solid commitment to their customers and those key experiences, like making sure your flight is on time or that your baggage isn’t lost or damaged, will always come out on top.”
As the most established measure of airline quality, researchers use a combination of performance-based data that allows comparison of actual performance among airlines most used by the public. This year’s announcement will be streamed live via Facebook. Full results will be available April 10.
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