MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The airline industry has undergone massive consolidation in the last few years and so far, the airlines that have merged aren’t producing good results when it comes to passenger satisfaction.
Consumer Reports released its annual ratings of airlines which looks at satisfaction with check-in, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, seating comfort, baggage handling, and in-flight entertainment. Based on those categories, Virgin America was rated as the nation’s top airline.
JetBlue Airlines came in tied for second place in the Consumer Reports survey and passengers cited the extras that JetBlue provides as a reason for its popularity.
“The first bag is free, complimentary snacks and television offered on the flight,” said JetBlue passenger Tamarah Pickney. “It makes the flight go by pretty fast when you’re occupied and have some sort of distraction, it makes the flight go by pretty fast.”
While Virgin America was at the top of the list, the worst airline according to Consumer Reports was Miramar-based Spirit Airlines. The CEO of Spirit, Ben Baldanza, recently told CBS This Morning that the main thing Consumer Reports didn’t ask was where passenger got the lowest fare.
Spirit’s Misty Pinson reiterated that message to CBS4 saying, “We are number 1 in the hearts and minds of people who want to save money and our flights are full of customers looking for the lowest total price.”
“Oh, price is great! But then if you want any extras, you pay for it,” said passenger David Garigaus.
While true Spirit does offer some of the lowest fares in the industry, the airline also makes up for the low cost of the actual ticket with charges for a litany of things that used to be free during air travel including carry-on bags and other items.
“All the hidden fees, you pay for your seat, you pay for your luggage, you have to pay for your boarding pass if you don’t print it at home,” said Spirit passenger Sherry Burke.
Spirit was also docked for the comfort of its seats by consumers. Spirit said if you want more legroom or inflight entertainment, you can get it somewhere else and pay for it.
Still, Spirit has some devotees.
“I love Spirit!,” said Delores Herman. “They’re on time all the time, I just have no complaints.”
Other low-cost carriers like Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways shined in the Consumer Reports review both coming in tied for second place. The rest of the Top 10 in order were: Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Delta Airlines, US Airways, American Airlines, and United Airlines.