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Air Canada among lowest-ranked North American carriers when it comes to customer satisfaction

A worker sprays de-icer on an Air Canada plane during a winter storm at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., February 28, 2023.     REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Air Canada is one of the lowest-ranked airlines when it comes to customer satisfaction in North America, a new survey has found. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder) (REUTERS / Reuters)

Air Canada (AC.TO) is one of the lowest-ranked airlines when it comes to customer satisfaction in North America, a new survey has found.

According to J.D. Power's North American airline satisfaction study, based on a survey of 9,582 passengers, Air Canada ranked last in the first and business class category, as well as in premium economy. The airline performed slightly better in the economy and basic category, coming in ninth out of 11 carriers, placing above American ultra-low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.

WestJet Airlines, Canada's second-largest carrier, ranked above Air Canada when it came to the premium economy and economy categories. It ranked fifth among seven airlines for premium economy, and it claimed the seventh spot out of 11 carriers for economy. WestJet's scores were below the segment average in both categories.

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The results represent a decline from last year for Canada's largest airline. Air Canada's ranking was one place higher in each category in 2023. WestJet also dropped off, falling from fifth last year in the economy category to seventh this year.

The results come after a year that saw Air Canada post the worst on-time performance among the largest airlines in North America, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium. Cirium says 63 per cent of the more than 376,000 flights Air Canada flew in 2023 arrived on time, meaning the flights landed within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. Delta Air Lines, which topped the list of North American carriers in the Cirium report, had 85 per cent of its more than 1.6 million flights flown land on time.

Delta claimed the top spot in customer satisfaction in both the first and business class category and the premium economy segment, J.D. Power says. Southwest Airlines ranked the highest for economy and basic economy for the third consecutive year.

In a statement, Michael Taylor, J.D. Power's senior managing director of travel, hospitality, retail and customer service, says the airlines that have invested in staff training and recruitment "are finding ways to overcome the negative effects of crowded gates." J.D. Power notes that Delta and Southwest have made substantial investments in staffing, and that "these efforts are paying off in the form of significantly higher scores in all areas where interpersonal interactions can make a difference."

The J.D. Power study, which was conducted between March 2023 and March 2024, was based on customer satisfaction in seven core categories, including airline staff, digital tools, ease of travel, level of trust, on-board experience, pre/post-flight experience and value for price paid.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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