Air travel gets a bad rap.
Not that there isn't a perfectly legitimate reason for air travelers' disdain. Remember the American Airlines cell phone video snafu of 2015 ? A passenger asked a testy flight attendant a question. She was consequently expelled from her flight. In tears. All of it caught on video. And blasted across the Internet and morning news.
Or how about that shrinking leg room? Or the disappearing food? Or the new fees for baggage? Or the TSA lines, pat-downs, groping, etc.? Or the late/cancelled flights? Or the engines bursting into flames on the tarmac? Or the feeling that, for every rapper/stand-up comedian flight attendant keeping things fun, there are 20 mentally, emotionally unstable ones?
The list goes on...
If you feel like the whole "hyperloop" train thing can't come fast enough, if only to get us out of our next flight, then you're probably not alone.
Airlines, as a whole, have let their standards fall in many ways, which has invited plenty of horror stories from the media and heavy doses of vitriol from passengers. All of this has combined to create a very unsavory perception of the airline industry as a whole, but this doesn't mean that all airlines are bad.
In fact, a handful of airlines are bucking the trend, including Alaska Airlines. In the last 10 years, as the majority of U.S. airlines have sagged in their customer satisfaction scores, Alaska Airlines has risen up to deliver one of the best all-around travel experiences in the country.
If you haven't given them a try, here are seven good reasons to book your next flight with Alaska Airlines:
Based on analysis of the more than 8 million commercial flights taken by major carriers in 2015, Alaska Airlines was found to have the highest frequency of on-time flights (meaning flights completed within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrivals). But this isn't a new thing for Alaska Airlines-they've held this prestigious honor for the last six years.
The Wall Street Journal also confirmed Alaska Airlines' punctuality when they ranked them as the best airline in the U.S. for the second year running, based on performance in on-time arrivals and lack of flight delays and customer complaints. The paper attributed Alaska Airlines' success to an investment in some industry-leading technology:
"Alaska has invested in satellite-based technology that helps it keep flying in fog and other bad weather in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest."
How does this near-guarantee of near-on-time arrival affect customers' travel experience? Just as asked Alaska Airlines passenger Roy Evans, who left this review on our site:
Remember those engine and cabin fires in the news last year? One of the biggest factors in passengers' distaste toward the airlines is the perceived lack of safety. On this front, however, Alaska Airline's reputation for safety is unbeatable.
Based on audits by the industry's governing bodies, fatality records, operational history, incident records, and operational excellence, AirlineRatings.com, "the world's only safety and product rating website" for the airline industry, has included Alaska Airlines in its list of the top 20 safest airlines in the world.
No meltdowns from stressed flight attendants here. In fact, it's hard to imagine any U.S. airline topping Alaska Airlines in customer satisfaction, for a number of reasons.
First, based on a survey of 11,354 passengers, J.D. Power has scored Alaska Airlines highest in customer satisfaction out of all traditional North American carriers for the last 8 years, from 2008 to 2015.
Second, J.D. Power also scored Alaska Airlines highest in customer satisfaction with their loyalty rewards program for the last two years.
Finally, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which annually scores companies in all major industries in terms of customer satisfaction, ranked Alaska Airlines among the top three airlines.
To understand just what this level of customer satisfaction looks like on the ground, with real customers, you need only look at the company's reviews, like this one from passenger Carla Finley:
You never want to deal with a company filled with disgruntled employees. For example, all of the recent outbursts from American Airlines flight attendants are believed to be just collateral damage from a big internal fracas between company leadership and their employee unions. And the last way you want to travel is stuck in a flying, pressurized metal tube with angry people in charge of your safety and comfort.
That's why it's refreshing to see that Alaska Airlines is known not just for customer satisfaction, but for employee satisfaction. And they're highly ranked for employee satisfaction not just in the airline industry, but among all companies-among the top 100 companies on Forbes' "America's Best Employers" list.
On a side note, Alaska Airlines was only one of three airlines to make the list.
Happy employees = a better experience for passengers
It's estimated that air travel accounts for about 2% of all human-generated carbon dioxide emissions. So, although it's not nearly as alarming as, say, the 74% of emissions that come from road travel, it does have a significant effect on the environment.
In a small win for Mother Earth, however, while many airlines largely ignore environmental issues, Alaska Airlines has made huge strides toward decreasing its impact on the planet. And these efforts have been recognized. For the last five years, the International Council on Clean Transportation has named Alaska Airlines the most fuel-efficient U.S. airline.
Alaska Airline's success in being more earth has also been confirmed by Travel + Leisure Magazine, which gave the airline their Global Vision Award in 2012 for reducing its carbon footprint by 30% in 8 years, committing a significant number of its flights to biofuel, and implementing an waste-reducing in-flight recycling program.
Sure, we know that high customer and employee satisfaction scores, as well as awards for safety and timeliness, are impressive, but what about how well the company itself is run. After all, the quality of your experience as a passenger can only be as good as the machinery-literal and figurative-that keeps an airline moving. Thankfully, the accolades that Alaska Airlines has amassed speak to well-run operation.
For 14 years straight, they have been given the Federal Aviation Administration's Diamond Award for "maintenance training excellence." To earn this award, 100% of their aircraft technicians had to complete the FAA's initial and ongoing training programs.
Alaska Airlines was also named "#1 Large Company" at the Leadership 500 Awards in 2015, passing up such venerated names as General Motors and Costco for the quality of their leadership training programs.
As if that weren't enough, Alaska Airlines was given the 2014 Airline Strategy Award for Technology, Environment and Operations by Airline Business Magazine, for leadership, clear vision, and managerial effectiveness of their executives.
While many U.S. airlines rest on their laurels, fixated on cutting costs, and largely ignore innovation, Alaska Airlines has always maintained a strong focus on improvement and innovation. Whether it's pioneering satellite navigation in the 1990's or improving luggage delivery times or making boarding smoother, Alaska Airlines has always focused on delivering a better customer experience.
Presumably, as Alaska Airlines continues to be recognized, the airline will only continue to exceed other airlines in how it improves the technical aspects of its business and delights its customers.