The 2010 Zagat Airline Survey results are in

The publisher of the popular Zagat restaurant guides surveyed its readers for their opinions on airlines and airports around the world, and the results are out today. The 8,007 respondents flew an average of 17.4 flights per year, and were likely seasoned travelers as the age demographic skewed older with 57% over the age of 50. Only 20% were 39 or younger.

Southwest came out a big winner in my opinion, while some news outlets lauded JetBlue and Continental. Southwest took top spot in the following categories:

  • Top Website
  • Best Value – Domestic
  • Best Consumer On-Time Estimates – Domestic
  • Best Luggage Policy
  • Best Check-In Experience

They came in second to JetBlue in the Top Rated Large Airline – Economy class category, and second to Virgin Atlantic in Top Frequent Flier Program. I have to admit that Southwest does an excellent job in managing customer expectations through their advertising and the general no-frills public awareness. I don’t fly Southwest that often, but when I have, I knew what to expect and it has always been consistent.

Nothing stands out to me as “Wow, how’d THAT airline land THERE?” A couple of ranking categories did make me pause, though. For example, not a single Asian carrier landed in the top 5 for Best Value – International. Fare structure had to be a consideration in that category, and I feel Asiana Airlines beats out most carriers on transpacific fares. Also, I was surprised United Airlines didn’t even rank in the Best Frequent Flier Program category. Mileage Plus has repeatedly been a top-rated program, and yes, I am a United loyalist and often sing their praises, but that one is a bit surprising.

Finally, if you’re a numbers geek like me, be sure to check out the full breakdown of percentages, and revel in some of the additional question results. Interesting to note for me was that 8% of respondents selected that they don’t use their frequent flyer miles (what?!), and the percentage of people who use a travel agent went up from last year. With the exception of elaborate tours, I’d expect the frequent travelers who took this survey to be the more do-it-themselves types than to use the services of a travel agent.

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