When it comes to customer satisfaction, airlines and travel websites seem to be moving in the right direction in pleasing patrons. Hotels? Not so much, according to an annual survey.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index Travel Report for 2018-2019 debuted Tuesday, and it seems most domestic travelers are satisfied with their experiences.

Airlines had an average score of 74 (on a scale of 0 to 100), up 1.4%, with Alaska Airlines taking the top slot with a score of 80. Southwest fell a percentage point, coming in second at 79 and tying with JetBlue. Southwest topped the list last year.

Delta ticked up one percentage point for a score of 75, while American Airlines scored a 73 and United netted a 70.

Alaska has performed fairly well in recent airline rankings, landing in fourth place for the Airline Quality Rating’s “largest U.S. airlines ranked from worst to best” and in second place in The Points Guy’s “the best and worst airlines in the U.S.”

Scroll through the gallery above to see the airlines with the most satisfied customers, ranked from worst to best.

Travelers more satisfied with air travel overall

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a national economic indicator, gathers data from more than 300,000 customer interviews every year. The index measures and analyzes the customer satisfaction levels of more than 400 companies. The scores range from 0 to 100.

Regarding the airline industry: People rated air travel overall favorably in terms of mobile apps, which tied with checking in with a score of 82. Boarding experience, which scored a 79, and cabin cleanliness, which scored a 78, saw improvements. Seat comfort was less than desirable for passengers, netting a score of 69. 

“Airlines sat at a near-record low of 62 just a dozen years ago,” David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI, said in a statement. This year’s average score was 74. “Now they’re among some of the most improved industries over that time.”

Hotels struggle to please consumers

Elsewhere in the report: Hotels saw a 1.3% drop to an overall ASCI score of 75. Traditional hotels are having trouble keeping up with services like Airbnb (though Marriott is reportedly going after Airbnb with its own home-rental business).

VanAmburg said: “This is a transforming industry. If corporate hotels aren’t able to step up, they’re going to continue to slide.” 

Hilton and Marriott tied for a top score of 80, dipping 2% and 1% respectively.

Travel sites score on mobile

Travel sites, meanwhile, performed well in the key area of apps: Travel website mobile apps had an ASCI quality score of 85 and reliability score of 83. TripAdvisor took the top slot for overall travel sites with a score of 82, followed not far behind by Orbitz (Expedia) with a score of 81.

Alaska Airlines is getting rid of non-recyclable plastic straws on its flights.


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