Delta tops J.D. Power airline rankings for 2021


Delta Air Lines has won the J.D. Power 2021 North America Airline Satisfaction award, following positive feedback from customers who flew between July 2020 and March 2021. The customer feedback was gained during one of the most stressful periods for air travel in modern history, but survey scores from a random sample representative of the airline industry’s customer base found that, of the North American carriers, Delta ranked highest. Customers appreciated the airline’s flight crew standards, its approach to removing change fees, and its empty middle seats policy.

“It’s particularly meaningful that this recognition came during the most challenging year in our history, when the warm hospitality provided by our people every day made the difference for our customers,” said Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta. “As we move into the recovery, our people-first actions will continue to drive our decisions and build on the trust earned during the pandemic.”

Delta had a customer satisfaction score of 860 (on a 1,000-point scale) – the first time the airline has ranked highest since 1995. Southwest Airlines ranked second with 856 points, and Alaska Airlines third, with 850 points.

The North America Airline Satisfaction Study measures passenger satisfaction with airline carriers in North America based on performance in eight factors, namely (in alphabetical order): aircraft; baggage; boarding; check-in; cost and fees; flight crew; in-flight services; and reservation.

Delta ranked top in the following four categories.

Flight crew: Delta’s crew delivered hospitality and inflight Covid safety measures. The personal experience will soon be further enhanced when Delta equips its flight attendants with 5G iPhone 12 SkyPro devices to streamline their customer interactions.

Aircraft: Blocking middle seats for a year and launching the industry’s first Global Cleanliness division are examples of how Delta put people before profits throughout the pandemic, helping restore customer confidence in travel.  

In-flight service: From entertainment and free messaging, to food and beverage and wi-fi, customers showed their appreciation for Delta’s continued innovation onboard over the past year. Customers can look forward to high-speed streaming-capable connectivity on select aircraft this summer, in partnership with Viasat.

Delta also reintroduced onboard snacks and beverage service in April, after a year of offering personal snack bags on domestic flights – a move guided by partners at Mayo Clinic.

Baggage claim: Delta’s unique RFID bag-tracking technology provides customers with real-time tracking via the Fly Delta app throughout the travel journey. The airline has also continued to invest in tools and technology to support ramp and baggage operation employees behind the scenes.  

Delta also earned high marks in other survey categories including the reservation process, check-in, boarding and on-time performance.

“Delta’s ‘people’ scores are a key factor in its success. Delta’s in-flight crew performed exceptionally well with its passengers in 2020 and 2021, getting significantly high scores in friendliness, courtesy and attentiveness to passenger needs,” said Michael Taylor, J.D. Power ‘s practice lead for travel and global business intelligence. “In a particularly difficult year, Delta’s people adapted to the challenges of new procedures and passenger concerns, and did so with high marks from its customers. Our J. D. Power data shows that Delta has been on a steady upward trend for several years, and its ‘people’ scores in the air and on the ground are setting the bar higher for the airline industry.”

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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