WestJet has earned bragging rights over Air Canada.
The latest North America Airline Satisfaction Study conducted by industry experts J.D. Power and Associates finds that Air Canada came in second on the continent in the "traditional carrier segment" with an overall satisfaction index score of 677. That's just one point behind Alaska Airlines, which had a 678 score for 2012.
But all seven of the "traditional carriers" finished behind the five "low-cost carriers" in the survey.
Tops in the low-cost category was JetBlue with a satisfaction indes of 776. Next was Southwest at 770, then WestJet in third at 733.
So, while WestJet was third in its category and Air Canada second in its category, the overall airline satisfaction index score for WestJet (733) was quite far above that of Air Canada (677).
The report says cost of tickets (duh) and extra fees slapped on consumers are key factors in the rankings. Two carriers with the highest satisfaction scores in the survey - JetBlue and Southwest - don't charge bag fees. Air Canada, which doesn't charge for the first bag, did well among traditional carriers in the cost and fees area of the study, officials said.
While cost and fees are important, more than 70 per cent of passenger satisfaction "is driven by other parts of the overall experience," the study said. Attributes of a carrier's "process and people," rather than price, seem to more strongly affect the likelihood of a passenger using an airline in the future.
"Despite the need for some carries to charge unpopular fees, they can gain a competitive advantage by focusing their efforts on process efficiency and positive interactions with staff and crew," said Jessica McGregor, senior manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power. "Carriers that find innovative ways to provide passengers with greater control, save them time, reduce hassles and make the airline experience more enjoyable and comfortable will reap satisfication benefits."
Which might explain WestJet's advantage. I don't find Air Canada's in-flight personnel cold, but they certainly don't compare to most of the WestJet folks. Yeah, a few WestJet workers can get carried away with the jokes and all, but for the most part they're fun and enjoyable and occasionally even hilarious.
If you're keeping score at home, here are the scores for the 12 airlines in the J.D. Power study.
LOW-COST CARRIERS: JetBlue 776, Southwest 770, WestJet 733, AirTran Airways 698, Frontier Airlines 694.
TRADITIONAL CARRIERS: Alaska 678, Air Canada 677, Delta, 659, Continental 649, American 647, United 625 (and deservedly so from my experience) and US Airways a woeful 614; easily the worst in North America.
GREECE TOURISM REPORT FROM STAR BLOGGER
Yee writes in her Moneyville blog today that some restaurants are only offering partial menus due to the lack of crowds and that some bus schedules to popular tourist destinations have been reduced, but that all in all things are going swimmingly. She says the beaches and cities aren't at all crowded and that there don't appear to be major problems.
AIR CANADA GOES WEST FOR LOW-COST CARRIER?
Good item in the Globe this morning from transportation reporter Brent Jang. Jang, who knows his stuff, says Air Canada is "shifting its strategy for launching a discount operation, focusing on locating a new low-cost international carrier in Vancouver in a bid to tap into the potential of Asian destinations."
He goes on to say that Vancouver is a good potential base given the expected growth in traffic from Asia and the potential drop in traffic from Europe due to the euro debt crisis.
Jang quoted an industry official as saying that Vancouver "has been an underperforming market for Air Canada on international routes" and that the airline is "trying to figure out how to make Vancouver work.”
The Asian market is quite strong, and Air Canada would face stiff competition from the likes of Cathay Pacific, Jang noted. Ditto for Singapore Airlines and others.
Air Canada has talked about forming its own low-cost airline, but they've run into objections - strong ones - from the pilots' union. Lately, AC officials have been chatting up the idea of going into a partnership with another airline to form its low-cost operation, which might allow them to bypass the Air Canada pilots' union.