Airlines rank lower in customer satisfaction than the post office

Fliers are slightly more satisfied with the service offered by U.S.-based airlines since last year.

But with the airline industry ranked below the U.S. Postal Service for customer satisfaction, it still has a way to go.

The findings come from an annual survey of about 70,000 Americans and show that the airline industry ranks higher than only subscription TV and Internet service companies.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, an independent benchmarking business developed at the University of Michigan, concluded that the industry improved 3% in 2013 to a rating of 69 on a 100-point scale. Not surprisingly, airline travelers were most turned off by crowded seating, extra passenger fees and poor customer service, according to the report.

Low-cost carriers JetBlue and Southwest airlines led the industry with scores of 83 and 81, respectively, while network airlines Delta, American, US Airways and United scored no better than 68, the survey found.

Industry officials defended the nation’s carriers, saying airfares have increased at only half the rate of inflation since 2000, even when accounting for those extra passenger fees.

Airlines also compare favorably with other modes of transportation such as taxis, said Jean Medina, spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation’s airlines.

For example, she noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation received 1.18 complaints against airlines for every 100,000 passengers that flew in 2011. By comparison, New York City taxicabs got 3,125 complaints for every 100,000 passengers that year, she said.

“We have great numbers compared to other modes of transportation,” Medina said.

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