United scores lowest among legacy airlines in customer satisfaction; JetBlue tops survey

The bad news for United Airlines: The Chicago-based carrier had the lowest customer satisfaction level of any legacy airline in a newly released annual survey.

The worse news: The survey was completed in March — before the viral video of a passenger being violently dragged off a United Express flight to make room for late-arriving employees sent the airline’s reputation into a nosedive.

Overall passenger satisfaction for airlines — including United — was up, but the industry remains in the bottom third of those tracked by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, or ACSI. The results, published Tuesday, are based on thousands of airline passenger interviews conducted over 12 months.

“Customer satisfaction has never appeared to be a goal for airlines,” Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of Michigan-based ACSI, said in a news release. “Compared to other industries, the financial return on passenger satisfaction is not much of an incentive. The exception is in the few airports where airlines actually compete with one another — or when they treat passengers spectacularly badly in public.”

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