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Originally published June 25, 2013 at 3:39 PM | Page modified June 25, 2013 at 5:46 PM

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Airline satisfaction: below post office, above subscription TV

Annual survey shows 3 percent improvement, but fliers still turned off by crowded seating, extra fees and poor service.

Los Angeles Times

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Fliers are slightly more satisfied with the service offered by U.S. airlines than they were last year.

But with the airline industry ranked below the U.S. Postal Service for customer satisfaction, it still has a way to go.

The findings come from an annual survey of about 70,000 Americans and show that the airline industry ranks higher than only subscription TV and Internet service companies.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, an independent benchmarking business developed at the University of Michigan, concluded that the industry improved 3 percent in 2013 to a rating of 69 on a 100-point scale. Not surprisingly, airline travelers are most turned off by crowded seating, extra fees and poor customer service, according to the report.

Low-cost carriers JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines led the industry with scores of 83 and 81, respectively; network airlines Delta, United, American and US Airways rated no better than 68, the survey found.

Industry officials defended the nation’s carriers, saying airfares have increased at only half the rate of inflation since 2000, even when accounting for those extra fees.

Airlines also compare favorably with other modes of transportation such as taxis, said Jean Medina, spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the trade group for the nation’s airlines.

For example, she said, the U.S. Department of Transportation received 1.18 complaints against airlines for every 100,000 passengers that flew in 2011. By comparison, New York City taxicabs got 3,125 complaints for every 100,000 passengers in that same year, she said.

“We have great numbers compared to other modes of transportation,” Medina said.

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