Airlines' customer satisfaction ratings drop according to J.D. Power survey

Travelers are increasingly dissatisfied with airline service as carriers cut in-flight benefits and increase fees, according to a study released Tuesday.

Overall customer satisfaction dropped for the third consecutive year to a four-year low, J.D. Power and Associates said.

Among the traditional full-service carriers, Alaska Airlines had the best customer satisfaction score, performing well in customers' appraisals of flight crew, aircraft, boarding/deplaning/baggage, check-in and reservation categories. Continental Airlines was No. 2.

The study also looked at in-flight services and costs and fees.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines was "about average," the study said, with several airlines scoring higher. Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways lagged behind American among the full-service carriers.

Among what J.D. Power classified as low-cost carriers, JetBlue Airways ranked the highest for the fourth year in a row. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines tied WestJet Airlines for second.

Southwest was the only airline in the study that improved overall in 2009 compared with last year, with higher scores in reservations, check-in and boarding/deplaning/baggage.

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