Do You Get More Satisfaction From Cheap Airlines Than Legacy Carriers Because You Expect Less?

When it comes to being satisfied with our flying experiences, it turns out we’d rather opt for low-cost carriers like JetBlue, over old legacy airlines like US Airways, according to a new study that rated customer satisfaction.

The JD Power & Associates 2012 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, released today. More than 13,500 respondents rated airlines on a wide variety of areas, including cost and fees, in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservations, reports the Los Angeles Times. Carriers were rated within their own categories.

On a scale of 1,000 points, low-cost carriers (JetBlue, Southwest, WestJet, Air Tran and Frontier) averaged 754 and the legacy carriers (Alaska, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, United and US Airways) 681.

But at 694, even though Frontier was in last place among low-cost carriers, it still beat Alaska Airlines’ 678 first-place spot among legacy lines.

Overall satisfaction so far in 2012 is down a bit from last year, perhaps because of increasing baggage fees and other new expenses. Many low-cost airlines don’t charge for the first checked bag, whereas the legacy lines often do.

Low satisfaction could be because of the services legacy airlines used to offer and the subsequent expectations of consumers. Hey, if you’re buying a cheap ticket, you know what you’re getting, or at least can understand a bit better if service is less than par. For example, arlines used to offer in-flight meals, but no one flying Southwest is going to expect that for free.

Satisfaction with low-cost carriers outpaces legacy counterparts [Los Angeles Times]