Quote of the week: People are not buying things…they are investing in themselves. People are happy getting back to reclaim their life and their joy and people are traveling. Travel is something people are prioritizing. Our team is ready and I think [this summer] is going to be a good travel period.

–  Ed Bastian, Delta CEO on CBS This Morning

Airline Satisfaction: Food is the Only Category Rising

The JD Power 2023 North America Airline Satisfaction Study released on May 10 found that customer satisfaction with major airlines is down significantly for a second consecutive year.

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“If yield management were the only metric airlines needed to be successful in the long term, this would be a banner year for the industry because they are operating at peak economic efficiency,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. “From the customer perspective, however, that means planes are crowded, tickets are expensive and flight availability is constrained. While these drawbacks have not yet put a dent in leisure travel demand, if this trend continues, travelers will reach a breaking point and some airline brands may be damaged.”

Following are some of the key findings of the 2023 study:

  • Overall passenger satisfaction declines, driven largely by cost of airfare: Overall passenger satisfaction is 791 (on a 1,000-point scale), down 7 points from a year ago. This is the second consecutive year of waning passenger satisfaction, following a 22-point decline in 2022 from 2021. The biggest factor driving this year’s decline in satisfaction is cost and fees, which has fallen 17 points from 2022.
  • First-class passengers buck the trend: While overall satisfaction is down, passengers in the first/business segment have had a decidedly more positive experience. Passenger satisfaction scores in this segment are up 9 points year-over-year. The gains are due in part to increases in food and beverage scores as many services were reinstated for upper-class cabins in the post-pandemic period.
  • Low-cost carriers feel the pinch: Annual declines in passenger satisfaction are most pronounced in the economy/basic economy segment where price-conscious passengers have found fewer airfare bargains this year. Satisfaction with cost and fees in the economy/basic economy segment is down 19 points from a year ago.
  • One thing everyone can agree on: One of the few areas showing improvement across all segments this year is food and beverage, which is up 12 points overall from 2022.

Airline Rankings

JetBlue Airways ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the first/business segment for a second consecutive year, with a score of 893. Delta Air Lines (865) ranks second and United Airlines (848) ranks third.

Delta Air Lines ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the premium economy segment with a score of 848. JetBlue Airways (840) ranks second and Alaska Airlines (823) ranks third.

Southwest Airlines ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the economy/basic economy segment for a second consecutive year, with a score of 827. Delta Air Lines (801) ranks second and JetBlue Airways (800) ranks third.

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in eight factors (in alphabetical order): aircraft; baggage; boarding; check-in; cost and fees; flight crew; in-flight services; and reservation. The study measures passenger satisfaction in three segments—first/business, premium economy and economy/basic economy—and is based on responses from 7,774 passengers. Passengers needed to have flown on a major North America airline within the past month of completing a survey. The study was fielded from March 2022 through March 2023.

Source: JD Power

US Department of State Raises Travel Advisory for Jamaica, Columbia

The U.S. Department of State has raised their travel advisory levels for Jamaica and Columbia to Level 3. In their advisory on Jamaica, the State Department said:

“Reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to many areas due to increased risk. Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.”

The advisory on Columbia states “crime and terrorism” as the reason for the red flag.

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To put the “advisory” into context, however, the entire countries of China and Egypt are currently under a level 3 advisory.

Jamaica Tourist Board released a statement saying, “While we are disappointed to continue to be listed at Level 3, it is important to note that there are very distinctly defined areas within Jamaica that the advisory cites as having a high risk for crime, so the majority of the island’s tourism product is not included in it.

Overall, the crime rate against visitors to Jamaica remains extremely low at 0.01% and the island is ranked among the top destinations for international travel this year. In fact, Jamaica is experiencing a rise in summer 2023 air travel bookings by 33% as compared to summer 2022 according to data by ForwardKeys. Visitors can continue to come to the island with confidence to enjoy all that the destination has to offer.

While incidents may sometimes occur, as is the case in destinations throughout the world, they are never acceptable, nor are they to be tolerated. Jamaica remains committed to providing a safe and secure environment for visitors and local citizens alike.”