Entries in Carriers (2)


Low-Cost Carriers Flying High in Customer Satisfaction

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It’s no secret that low-cost carriers have won over the hearts of travelers everywhere.  But it may not be for the reason you think: When it comes to price, there’s typically not a whole lot of difference on routes where low-cost carriers compete with the legacy carriers.  Sometimes, the low-cost carriers actually cost more.

But a new survey from J.D. Power and Associates found that cost, as well as fees, are just two of the factors that led to higher customer satisfaction.  More than 70 percent of passenger satisfaction was driven by other parts of the overall experience, namely, a carrier’s policies and people.

The study measures overall customer satisfaction based on performance in seven categories (in order of importance): cost and fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservations.

Two low-cost airlines, JetBlue and Southwest, ranked highest and performed well in many categories that had nothing to do with price and fees.  JetBlue scored well for in-flight services and aircraft; Southwest for boarding/deplaning/baggage, check-in and reservations.

The absence of fees, however, does make a difference.  Satisfaction for airlines that charge for bags was 85 points lower, on average, than those that don’t.  Among traditional carriers, Air Canada, which also allows one free checked bag, performed well.  The two airlines that scored highest -- JetBlue at number one and Southwest at number two -- don’t charge for a first checked bag.  Southwest doesn’t even charge for a second checked bag.

Alaska Airlines came in first among traditional carriers for the fifth consecutive year.

Overall, satisfaction with low-cost carriers rose for the third consecutive year, while satisfaction with traditional carriers fell.  Among the traditional carriers, the only one that increased its satisfaction ranking was Delta.

“Despite the need for some carriers to charge unpopular fees, they can gain a competitive advantage by focusing their efforts on efficiency and positive interactions with the staff and crew,” said Jessica McGregor, senior manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

Here are the rankings for traditional carriers:

1. Alaska Airlines
2. Air Canada
3. Delta Airlines
4. Continental Airlines
5. American Airlines
6. United Airlines
7. US Airways

And those for low-cost carriers:

1. JetBlue Airways
2. Southwest Airlines
3. West Jet
4. AirTran Airways
5. Frontier

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Ting Will Pay for You to Get Out of Your Cellphone Contract

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Whether we like it or not, U.S. cellphone carriers, for the most part, require customers to sign two-year contracts. Signing that contract gets you a phone at a discounted price, but requires you to pay for service with that carrier for the next two years of your life. If you want out, you are forced to pay a sometimes-hefty termination fee.

Tucows, an Internet service company based in Toronto, is going to war against service contracts with its Ting cellular service. The company, like U.S. Cellular, NetZero and Virgin Mobile, provides cellphone service without tying you to a network or a contract. And the company is so passionate about contract-free cell service that this month it is even offering to get some people out of their contracts by paying their termination fees.

In what it is calling “Dump Your Contract Month,” the two-month-old company offers to pay the early termination fee -- which ranges from $150 to $350 at carriers like Verizon and AT&T -- for one person every day in May.

“The promotion is to get people talking about the whole idea of going with a no-contract option,” Michael Goldstein, Tucows’ vice president of marketing, told ABC News. “People can submit, and we will pay the fee for 30 people.”

Ting doesn’t even require those who win to buy a Ting phone and sign up for a month of service. But Goldstein said the company hopes that those who do win will be interested in signing up for Ting. “You probably have some intention of signing up if you’ve entered,” he said.

Ting’s network is actually Sprint’s 3G or 4G WiMax network.  Ting, known as a mobile virtual network operator (or MVNO), doesn’t own the wireless network or spectrum, but rather has an agreement with Sprint to offer the service. Ting offers a selection of six Android phones, ranging from $190 to $580, and then has monthly service plans. The phones are pricier than equivalent ones at Verizon, AT&T and other networks, since they are unlocked.

The plans aren’t structured like the ones from Verizon, AT&T or Sprint. They are more like a la carte menus; you can mix and match different text message, voice calling, and data offerings. And the plans are affordable: 1,000 minutes cost $18 for a month, 2,000 text messages cost $8, and 2GB of data cost $42. Included with any service are voicemail, picture and video messaging, and tethering/hotspot functionality, so you can use your phone’s Internet connection on your laptop or tablet.

Ting’s “Dump Your Contract” promotion is up and running on its site now.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio