Wings Magazine

News Airlines
Customer satisfaction with Air Canada, WestJet falls below average: Survey

May 10, 2023  By Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Canada’s two biggest airlines scored below average for customer satisfaction for economy class service among major North American carriers, according to a new survey.

WestJet notched a customer satisfaction figure of 777 on a 1,000-point scale, edging out Air Canada which scored 765. However, both were below the average economy class score of 782 in a poll by J.D. Power.

Pricier fares, crowded planes and fewer flight options were behind the frustration — but demand remains strong nonetheless — said Michael Taylor, managing director of travel, hospitality and retail at the consumer analytics company.

As a result, carriers yielded higher revenues this year after a prolonged industry slump prompted by the pandemic, he said. Many are running at “peak efficiency,” though higher labour and fuel costs compared with 2019 have hampered profit margins.


North America is not exempt from a global pilot shortage, which partly explains why fewer planes ply the skies compared with four years ago.

“They’re more full — they have a higher load factor — and that usually decreases satisfaction,” Taylor said.

Some airlines have ditched smaller planes, trying to pack in as many passengers as possible per flight. Meanwhile, the surge in leisure travel after two years under border restrictions and COVID-19 health concerns has pushed prices north.

While a spate of upstart airlines has made domestic air travel cheaper than ever overall in Canada _ particularly in the busiest corridors — passengers face higher prices and scarcer trip options in many regions and on international routes, according to figures from aviation data firm Cirium.

“You want to fly to, say, Winnipeg, it might be a little more expensive, because it’s not the most popular destination versus, say, getting to Toronto,” Taylor said.

The survey ranked airlines in three separate categories: first class and business class, premium economy, and economy and basic economy. In the first two groups, Air Canada placed fifth of six.

JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines came in first and second respectively for business class, and swapped spots for premium economy. United Airlines finished last for business class, and American Airlines did the same for premium economy.

For economy, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways snagged the top three spots _ despite a meltdown at Southwest that caused of thousands of December flight cancellations in what U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called a “system failure.”

WestJet ranked fifth and Air Canada was eighth. Neither airline immediately responded to a request for comment.

The survey, carried out between March 2022 and March 2023, is based on responses from 7,774 passengers at scores of airports who flew on large North American airlines.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2021


Stories continue below