Delta, JetBlue Top U.S. Airline Customer Satisfaction for Business Class

Delta, JetBlue Top U.S. Airline Customer Satisfaction for Business Class


Delta and JetBlue top U.S. airline customer satisfaction for first class and business class in JD Power's 2024 airline rankings. These airlines also have some of the worst value frequent flyer programs, and yes, these are related. But first, let's discuss the rankings.

Delta assumed the top spot, after finishing second to JetBlue in 2023:

  1. Delta Air Lines (743)
  2. JetBlue Airways (736)
  3. United Airlines (698)
  4. Alaska Airlines (695)
  5. American Airlines (676)
  6. Air Canada (629)


According to Michael Taylor of JD Power, the bottom line from the 2024 study is “the power of people to positively influence the overall flight experience…airlines that are investing in staff training and recruitment are finding ways to overcome the negative effects of crowded gates and planes simply by being nice to their customers.” (emphasis ours)

He went on to say that trust and ease of travel are key drivers of passenger satisfaction, which makes sense given the nearly daily headlines about the many challenges of post-pandemic flying: cancelled flights, gamification of pre-boarding, packed cabins, air rage, and more.

It's interesting that JetBlue, which has been challenged in terms of on-time operations, and doesn't pay flight attendants as well as Delta, has managed to claim the first or second spot in 2020, 2022, 2023 and 2024 (it was third in 2021). But JetBlue has a long legacy of focusing on customer service; in 2010 it set itself the goal of becoming “America's favorite airline by bringing humanity back to air travel.” Unlike the one-way email blasts and exhortations of some of JetBlue's competitors, face to face summits and recognition efforts focused on providing the right work environment and inspiring crew to use their discretionary energy to deliver service on a daily basis that customers appreciated. It's also worth noting that Rob Maruster, JetBlue's COO at the time, came to JetBlue from Delta, often seen as the best mainline U.S. airline to work for.

Let's get back to the disparity between customer satisfaction and the frequent flyer program value at Delta and JetBlue. Delta long ago got rid of its award charts, and is so known for the ridiculously large number of SkyMiles needed for Delta One business class award flights that SkyMiles have been dubbed “Sky Pesos.” And JetBlue's TrueBlue frequent flyer program is revenue-based, meaning that you'll pay more TrueBlue points for more expensive flights. When redeeming for JetBlue Mint, you generally won't get more than about 1 cent of value per TrueBlue point redeemed. That's abysmal value in our book, since we typically aim to get 4-5 cents or more of value per mile or point redeemed.

And yet many people choose to fly Delta One or JetBlue Mint even when it's a bit more expensive than the competition, and despite the poor value of the frequent flyer miles they earn in the process. For Delta, it's often a combination of greater trust in its operation as well as better customer service, while for JetBlue, which has been more operationally challenged, JetBlue Mint (with suites available if you book early enough), with better food and service on average than United and American, has been a draw. That kind of loyalty to service is far more enduring than one to a frequent flyer program, particularly with periodic award chart devaluations. The most recent United MileagePlus devaluation will definitely mean we don't apply for MileagePlus credit cards and transfer far fewer Ultimate Rewards points to United MileagePlus.

There's a corollary to luxury hotels: most of our clients prefer to stay at a Four Seasons hotel or resort over a Marriott managed Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis or a Hyatt managed Park Hyatt, and a significant part of that is the service. There tends to be greater investment at the Four Seasons in selecting, training, and empowering team members to provide great service, even to the extent of having them stay as guests at Four Seasons as part of their training, to understand how it should feel to be a guest. Four Seasons doesn't have a point-based loyalty program, making guest loyalty that much stronger. True loyalty is when guests willingly pay more for your product than for competitors' (especially those who are dangling the possibility of earning free nights or free flights faster).

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