Skip to main content

A WestJet plane passes over an Air Canada plane at the Calgary Airport on May 10, 2018.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

North Americans are happier about airline travel than they have ever been, a survey of passengers shows, pointing to cheaper fares, new planes and better overheard storage compartments.

Passenger satisfaction with airlines in North America rose for the seventh straight year in the 2018 survey by quality measuring consulting firm J.D. Power and Associates. Overall satisfaction rose six points to 762 on a 1,000-point scale, the consulting firm said in its annual survey of airline passengers, released Wednesday.

“Operationally, it’s never been a better time to fly,” Michael Taylor, who leads the travel practice at J.D. Power, said in a news release. “Passengers perceive greater value in ticket prices, checking in has never been easier, passengers are more satisfied with the actual aircraft and airlines have improved their baggage-handling performance.”

Story continues below advertisement

Canada’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd., improved their standing in the study, but still ranked below-average in their segments. Air Canada’s 734-point total was less than the 741-point average in the traditional carrier rankings, while WestJet’s 747 points were below the 799-point average among low-cost carriers.

Air Canada’s score increased 25 points, from the 2017 level of 709, the second-best improvement among traditional carriers.

Passengers were surveyed between March, 2017, and March, 2018, a period during which many airlines experienced savage criticism on social media and elsewhere, highlighted by police pulling a man off an overbooked United Airlines plane in Chicago in April, 2017.

Both Canadian carriers are active in the two key categories of fleet and fares.

Both are adding new single-aisle Boeing 737 airplanes, while WestJet will expand its wide-body offerings and international destinations next year with the addition of Boeing 787 planes. Air Canada will take delivery of the final two planes of its 37-plane 787 order next year.

The airlines are also expanding their low-priced offerings.

WestJet has created an ultralow-cost carrier called Swoop that is scheduled to begin flying next month and plans to expand its offerings to popular winter destinations later this year.

Story continues below advertisement

Air Canada has expanded its low-cost Rouge network domestically.

All airlines, however, are struggling to keep passengers satisfied when it comes to in-flight offerings such as food, beverage and entertainment systems, the survey results show.

In-flight services were the issue that was complained about most, the survey showed.

J.D. Power said passengers expect trouble-free connectivity for personal devices.

“Keeping pace with improvements in Wi-Fi technology is a difficult and expensive proposition for the airlines,” the consulting firm said.

Alaska Airlines topped the ranking of traditional carriers, while Southwest Airlines Co. led the low-cost carrier category.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Unchecking box will stop auto data updates
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter