It's not exactly a Stop the Presses moment, but a new survey of American consumers shows that U.S. commercial airlines are among the least-liked businesses in the United States. Business travelers, who spend a lot of time in the sky - and often have to pay high walk-up fares to go with added fees that airlines have tacked on to try to make a profit in a time of sky-high jet fuel - are especially disgruntled.
Every year, the American Customer Satisfaction Index records the results of a survey of selected U.S. consumers, and every year the section on air travel makes melancholy reading. Only 65 percent of fliers describe themselves as very satisfied or fairly satisfied.
Southwest Airlines, the perennial leader, ranks highest for the 18th consecutive year. It may not be entirely coincidental that Southwest is the major holdout in not charging fees for checked bags - a pet peeve of passengers. Continental Airlines, which merged with United Airlines - also known as Misery Air among regulars - saw its customer satisfaction score drop 10 points from last year.
Any good news? Yes. Most U.S. travelers are satisfied with U.S. hotels, giving the indstry as a whole a respectable score of 77 points.