Air Canada struggles in customer satisfaction as Delta excels: J.D. Power study

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Air Canada lags behind its competitors in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2024 North America Airline Satisfaction Study. 

Conversely, Delta Air Lines has excelled, clinching the top spot for both first/business class and premium economy passenger satisfaction.

The study highlighted various airlines’ overall customer satisfaction in first class/business, premium economy, and economy/basic economy.

Air Canada ranks dead last in overall customer satisfaction in first class/business and premium economy. It is flanked only by Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines in customer satisfaction for economy/basic economy. The two airlines that ranked below Air Canada in this category were not present in the other two groups because they are budget airlines without first-class or premium seating.

Air Canada had an overall customer satisfaction index rating of 629 out of a 1,000-point scale in first/business class. The industry average was 701, with Delta Air Lines leading the pack at 743.

Air Canada has an overall customer satisfaction index rating of 628 in premium economy, compared to the industry average of 675. Delta Air Lines once again led the pack at 716.

J.D. Power said domestic air passenger volume is up 9.4% year-over-year, resulting in crowded gates, stuffed overhead bins, and expensive fares.

“Airlines have their hands full trying to maintain customer satisfaction,” read the study.

“Big investments by airlines in staff training and efforts to improve the overall flight experience with friendly, attentive service are helping some airlines deliver great customer experiences — despite the crowds,” the study added.

The study’s key findings highlighted that passengers value ease of travel and trust. While the study noted that the price paid was important, it was more important for passengers to have a seamless flight. The study also found that media coverage influenced trust scores greatly.

Air Canada had various stories in the media in 2023 that could have resulted in an increased negative public perception.

“Overall satisfaction scores for trust are 400 points lower (on a 1,000-point scale) among passengers who saw negative news coverage of an airline’s performance in the past year,” read the study.

The third key finding was that investments in the customer service side of airline businesses are vital, paying off with significantly higher scores in areas where interpersonal interactions can have an effect.

The study measured seven dimensions on a poor-to-perfect 6-point scale. Dimensions measured were airline staff, digital tools, ease of travel, level of trust, onboard experience, pre/post-flight experience, and value for price paid.

9,582 passengers who have flown on a major North American airline within the past month of taking the survey responded to the survey between March 2023 and 2024.

Two airlines that performed at the top of the list, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, have significantly invested in the people side of their businesses, according to the study.

Delta Air Lines ranked highest in customer satisfaction in first/business class and premium economy. They ranked second in economy/basic economy, surpassed only by Southwest Airlines — who, like Spirit and Frontier, don’t have first-class or premium seating and were not featured in those categories.

Delta issued a press release, saying that they also received first place in premium economy class last year. 

“This is a wonderful reflection of our elevated customer experience, fuelled by the unparalleled service of our 100,000 Delta people worldwide,” said Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

True North reached out to Air Canada for comment but received no response.

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