Airlines Rank Low in Customer Satisfaction

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Poor service and higher airfares and fees have reduced customer satisfaction with airlines, according to an annual American Customer Satisfaction Index report.

The Michigan-based group says the overall airline industry customer satisfaction score dropped 1.5 percent from a year ago, to 65 out of a possible 100.

Airline ticket prices are already high due to the rise in gas prices. Many say those costly added fees are the reason for their lack of satisfaction.

"Airline mergers typically have a destructive effect on passenger satisfaction," said Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of 'The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference.'

The ACSI survey found that poor service remains a problem for the airline industry. Higher fuel prices and fees for baggage and other services raise passenger costs and contribute to discontent among travelers, the survey revealed.

The average domestic airfare grew to $247 in the first three months of 2011, a 10 percent increase over the same period last year, according to data from American Express Global Business Travel.

For those who think ticket prices will go down when gas prices go down, some analysts say think again.

"No. Airline fares are not going down with the price of fuel. When the demand is really high then you're going to sell your product for a higher price," explained Farecompare.com's Rick Seaney.

There is some relief ahead, however. When the summer rush ends in September, airfares are expected to drop from 5-10 percent.

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