JetBlue Has the Best First and Business Class in the U.S., a New Study Says

To no great surprise, it pays to sit at the front of the plane.

New research shows that the majority of fliers are disappointed with American carriers, but the upper echelon remained rather pleased. Overall passenger satisfaction with the major North American airlines dropped significantly for a second consecutive year, according to a new study by J.D. Power. Jet-setters in first and business class have had a decidedly more positive experience over the past 12 months, though.

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The 2023 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, which was published by the consumer research firm on Wednesday, measured customer satisfaction across eight categories: aircraft, baggage, boarding, check-in, cost and fees, flight crew, in-flight services, and reservation. Each flier rated their satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale. (The 7,774 passengers took to the skies from March 2022 to March 2023 and had to complete the survey within a month of flying.)

Airline Rankings
Airline Rankings

JetBlue Airways ranked the highest in the first and business segment for a second consecutive year, with a score of 893. Delta Air Lines landed second (865) and United Airlines came in third (848). American Airlines ranked the worst in the category yet still achieved a relatively high score of 826.

J.D. Power says gains in the first and business segments were partially due to increased satisfaction with in-flight services. Many food and beverage offerings were reinstated for upper-class cabins throughout this period as pandemic-related restrictions eased.

JetBlue's "Mint" Business Class
JetBlue’s “Mint” Business Class.

As for the other classes, Delta Air Lines ranked highest in the premium economy segment with a score of 848 while Southwest Airlines topped the economy and basic economy category with 827 points. A combination of crowded planes, surging airfares, and limited flight availability caused dissatisfaction among fliers in these classes.

“While these drawbacks have not yet put a dent in leisure travel demand, if this trend continues, travelers will reach a breaking point and some airline brands may be damaged,” Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement.

Until things are properly sorted, keep sitting at the front, folks.

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