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US Airways lands lowest satisfaction ratings in flier survey

By Ashley Strickland, Special to CNN
US Airways received the lowest marks for cabin-crew service in a Consumer Reports survey.
US Airways received the lowest marks for cabin-crew service in a Consumer Reports survey.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new Consumer Reports survey shows air travelers want cheap, comfortable flights
  • US Airways received the lowest ratings overall
  • Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways received top marks in overall satisfaction
  • Fees are a big factor in travelers' decisions to fly less

(CNN) -- A new Consumer Reports survey reveals that air travelers want comfort without emptying their wallets -- and many airlines don't deliver.

US Airways landed at the bottom of the list for overall satisfaction, also receiving the lowest marks for cabin-crew service. The airline was also ranked lowest in 2007, when the last Consumer Reports airline rankings were released.

A US Airways spokesman questioned the methodology of the Consumer Reports survey and pointed out a 70 percent improvement in baggage delivery since 2007. The airline scored a 61 out of 100 in overall satisfaction on the Consumer Reports scale. Scores above 60 mean those surveyed were "fairly well satisfied," according to the ratings guide.

Southwest Airlines topped the rankings for overall satisfaction, with JetBlue Airways coming in second in the survey of nearly 15,000 passengers.

JetBlue and Southwest also scored highest in seat comfort. The remaining eight of the 10 airlines scored low marks for comfort.

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Baggage handling, check-in ease, cleanliness and in-flight entertainment were some of the other factors rated.

The passengers shared their experiences from a collective 29,720 domestic flights from January 2010 to January 2011.

Southwest and JetBlue battled to top each other. While JetBlue was the only airline to outscore Southwest in seat comfort, Southwest was rated the ultimate for check-in ease and cabin-crew service.

JetBlue topped the in-flight entertainment ratings, with 36 channels available on each seatback screen.

These survey results were compiled before cracks were discovered in some of Southwest Airlines' planes.

The pileup of added fees during or after check-in is contributing to many travelers' decisions to fly less, according to the survey. Of the respondents who said they've cut back on flying, 40 percent cited fees as the major reason.

While most Southwest Airlines travelers -- 93 percent -- managed to avoid extra fees, passengers flying with Continental Airlines, JetBlue, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines and Frontier Airlines had to pay fees.

AirTran's multiple fees were rated the worst.