5 On Your Side

New review of airline service by U.S. fliers holds surprises

Posted May 28, 2018 12:58 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:13 a.m. EDT

— Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer, which usually brings an increase in airline travel for U.S. passengers.

Consumer Reports has published a new review of airlines, which have come under fire in recent months for higher fees, poor service and inadequate cabin space for passengers.

The magazine surveyed more than 53,000 of its members, asking them to rate their most recent experience with their domestic flight.

Airplane takes off

The overall results were surprising.

"One of the things that really stood out to me was just how satisfied people actually are with the service that they receive by the airlines," said Octavio Blanco, a content creator for the publication.

There were, however, some notable exceptions.

The survey found that Spirit and Frontier received low marks across the board, including for flight status updates, wireless service on the plane and food selection.

The airlines that led the way for economy seats were: Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue, Virgin America and Hawaiian.

"Southwest really stood out, especially for their price transparency," Blanco said. "They were the only one that received such high marks, in terms of, just how well they explain all the fees that get added onto passengers tickets when they're booking."

All 11 airlines in the survey received low marks for seat comfort, legroom and food selection.

Many flyers say prior history and experience with an airline was not a major factor while booking a flight. Researchers found the No. 1 criteria was price. Consumers should also consider the fees that are added to a ticket when considering fares because those fees can quickly add up.