Ratings Reveal Which Airlines To Fly Or Avoid This Holiday Season

With all the madness that comes with the holiday season, the last thing that any of us who are planning to travel want to deal with is the Scrooges in the airlines industry. In an effort to help you visit family and friends in the jovial spirit you intended, Glassdoor gives insights into what airlines employees recommend.

This Glassdoor report may also be particularly useful given the 2009 JD Power study that shows overall customer satisfaction in 2009 has declined for a third consecutive year, now at a four-year low. The decline is driven by decreased passenger satisfaction with in-flight services, flight crew and costs and fees, compared with 2008.

First, insight into where employees are least satisfied among airline carriers that have also been evaluated by JD Power. United Airlines tops that list — scoring the lowest according JD Power and employee reviews on Glassdoor. The legacy carrier rates 2.0 according to JD Power and just garners a low 1.9 company rating according to employees.  American Airlines comes in as the second least favored airline by employees garnering a modest 2.7 company rating on Glassdoor and moderate JD Power rating (3.0). Third lowest rated airline among employees is Air Canada which holds a 2.8 approval rating but holds a 3.0 consumer rating based on JD Power reports.  Among the hundreds of company reviews for these airlines, there are some illuminating comments about why the companies receive such low marks from its own brethren:

In advice to senior management, a United Airlines Flight Attendant writes: “Find someone to lead that is invested in employees, customers, and the business. When employees are happy, customers are happy, and business is good. Simple business model.” (Location n/a)

“The only good thing left is the free flights, when you can get on a plane….” – American Airlines Middle Management (DFW, TX)

“I have worked at Air Canada for 11 years and for the last 9 air canada senior management has made it very clear that they feel air canada would be a much better airline if they could just get rid of all their employees.” – Air Canada Customer Sale & Service Agent (Montreal, QC)

But it’s not all doom and gloom in the airline industry – there is hope for less stressful travels. According to JD Power the top traditional network airline to travel with in terms of overall satisfaction is Alaska Airlines – given a 3.0 (neutral) rating by employees .  However, Continental Airlines receives high marks from both JD Power and employees on Glassdoor.  But it’s Southwest Airlines that garners a very satisfied (4.7) rating from employees – the highest of all airlines reviewed here (and the #1 Best Place to Work overall). Have a look at a few of the reasons these carriers garner positive feedback from employees:

“Alaska promotes a real family atmosphere, but it’s more preach than practice sometimes.” – Alaska Airlines Management (Seatac, WA)

“I wouldn’t have stayed over 20 years if I hated the place!” – Continental Airlines Team Leader (Houston, TX)

“Southwest Airlines is the best company that I have ever worked for… Our direct supervisors are great and truly encourage us to do our best…..It feels as if you want to make them proud!” – Southwest Airlines Reservations (location n/a)

You can see below how other airlines ranked according to JD Power or Glassdoor employee company reviews as well as see the approval ratings for each respective company CEO.

JD Power and Company Rating of Major Airlines (as of 12.21.09)

Do you have a favorite airline? Are you planning to travel by air this holiday season, and what do you expect from your airline of choice?

* JD Power looks at reservation experience, check-in experience and boarding/deplaning/baggage experience. JD Power rankings: 5.0 = Among the best, 4.0 = Better than most, 3.0 = About average 2.0 = The rest

** Glassdoor employee company ratings evaluate: career opportunities, communication, compensation & benefits, employee morale, recognition & feedback, senior leadership, work/life balance, and fairness & respect. Glassdoor ratings: 5.0  = very satisfied, 3.0 = neutral, 1.0 = very unsatisfied