The newest annual Zagat survey of air travelers found that most of the nation’s legacy airlines have been falling behind their newer competitors in overall customer satisfaction: The domestic economy services offered by American, Delta, United and US Airways all received overall ratings between 9 and 11 on Zagat’s 30-point scale, the company said. However, Zagat said Continental “broke out of the pack” with an overall rating of 15. “Relatively new airlines such as JetBlue and Virgin America – flying newer planes with younger crews – got much higher ratings (19 and 21 respectively),” Zagat said. The company surveyed 5,895 frequent travelers and travel professionals who took a total of nearly 100,000 flights in the past year. Among large U.S. airlines, respondents rated Continental’s domestic premium class service as the best overall, while JetBlue was judged to have the best economy class service. Among “midsize” airlines, Virgin America won the top rating for domestic premium service and tied with Midwest Airlines for best economy service.
The survey found that airlines’ international service continued to be rated much better than domestic service. Continental’s international service was the most highly rated among U.S. airlines, but foreign carriers continued to dominate the international rankings: Singapore was the best, scoring an overall rating of 24 on the 30-point scale, followed by Emirates with 22 and Cathay Pacific at 21. “That airlines like Singapore, Emirates and Cathay Pacific do so well is a no-brainer – government support,” said Zagat Survey CEO Tim Zagat. “The big question is how Continental does so well without any special advantages.” The survey also asked about respondents’ opinions of U.S. airports. Portland, Oregon’s airport was rated the best in the country, followed by Tampa, Detroit, Orlando and Minneapolis/St. Paul. The country’s worst airport, the respondents said, was New York LaGuardia – for the third consecutive year.