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Travel Industry Report Card: Orbitz & Southwest Airlines On Top, According To Employees

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

June 8, 2012

Few industries draw more frustration from consumers than travel, and who could blame them? High costs, ever changing fees, customer service issues – and that’s just scratching the surface. But what about the flipside – how do employees in this industry feel about their employers? And, how does employee satisfaction relate to customer service? Glassdoor’s 2012 Travel Industry Report Card looks deeper into more than 30 companies from the employee perspective.

Although mergers, CEO changes and industry shuffling have changed the travel landscape, we’ve combed through the good, and the not-so-good, reviews posted in the past year by employees to determine which travel companies and CEOs come out on top, comparing to the prior year’s results, where appropriate.

And the honors go to…

After reigning for two years, Southwest Airlines was topped by online travel agency Orbitz, which takes top honors with a 4.0 (very satisfied) rating. The low-cost carrier is a close second with a 3.9 rating (satisfied). However, the LUV employees have for Southwest may be sliding – the company’s overall rating on Glassdoor has fallen .3 points since the prior year. It is interesting to note, however, that Southwest Airlines has been the recipient of Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards, a honor given to the 50 Best Places to Work, for the past three consecutive years – though the company’s rating fell from a 4.7 in the 2010 awards when Southwest ranked #1, to 4.4 in the 2011 awards and then to 3.8 in the 2012 awards.


It seems that low-cost carriers are as good to their employees as they are to customers – Southwest leads the airline category and JetBlue comes in at a close second with a 3.7 (satisfied) employee rating. JetBlue had the most major gains in company rating year over year as the company climbed .5 points. Both Southwest and JetBlue CEOs also take the 1-2 spot: Southwest’s Gary Kelly has an 84% approval, and JetBlue’s Dave Barger currently holds an 83% rating. AirTran was also among the top – the company earned a 3.5 (satisfied) rating from employees.

Among the traditional carriers, Delta Air Lines has a 3.2 (OK) rating and CEO Richard H. Anderson is the third highest rated airline CEO with 74% approval. Delta is followed by United Airlines, also with a 3.2 (OK) rating (up from a 2.0 rating when the merger with Continental was announced). American Airlines has a 2.9 (OK) rating, which is unchanged from last year. Regional carrier Pinnacle Airlines did not fare so well – employees gave the airline a low 1.8 (dissatisfied) rating.


Employees love working at the Ritz-Carlton – the chain tops the list with a 3.8 (satisfied) rating, which is the third highest rating of all travel companies included in Glassdoor’s Report Card. The Ritz’s competitor, Four Seasons Hotels, is a close second with a 3.7 (satisfied) rating. Tying for the third spot among hotels are Marriott and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; both companies have a 3.6 (satisfied) rating. Employees noted the Hampton Inn has improved the most in this category, gaining .7 to a 3.3 (OK) rating this year. Hyatt’s Mark S. Hoplamazian is the highest rated hotel CEO (among those with 15 reviews or more) with an 83% approval.

Online Travel Agencies, Review Sites and Global Distribution Systems

While Orbitz tops both overall and online travel agency lists, receiving a 4.0 (very satisfied) rating, employees also have high marks for TripAdvisor. The company takes the second spot with a 3.7 (satisfied) rating. Among CEOs that have received at least 15 ratings from employees over the past year, Orbitz’s head, Barney Harford, comes in #1 with 88% approval. SABRE’s CEO Sam Gilliland is the most improved – he gained 18 percentage points since the prior year and reached 86% approval in the past 12 months. It seems that employees have some issues with Travelocity – the company has a 2.8 (OK) rating – the lowest of all online travel agencies.

Car & Truck Rentals

There’s been little shift in car rental agencies since 2011. Enterprise Rent-A-Car takes the lead as the best rental agency to work for according to employees with a 3.0 (OK) rating. Both Avis Budget and Hertz maintained their ratings year-over-year – 2.4 (dissatisfied) and 2.5 (OK), respectively.

Cruise Lines

Princess Cruise Lines comes in as the top rated cruise line this year with a 3.3 (OK) rating.

Do satisfied employees translate to satisfied customers?

JD Power and Associates, a leading provider of consumer satisfaction research, released the results of their 2012 North American Airline Satisfaction Study℠ (June 13, 2012) and we’ve done some quick comparisons with the Glassdoor Travel Industry Report Card. We’ve found that, for the most part, there continues to be a strong correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. Satisfied employees do translate to happy customers in several cases. Here are some highlights:

  • Low cost airline carriers earn top marks on both the Glassdoor Travel Industry Report Card and JD Power’s consumer satisfaction study with only one difference: Southwest edged out JetBlue among employees with a 3.9 (satisfied) company rating vs. a 3.7 (satisfied) company rating. According to JD Power, JetBlue came out on top among consumers, and the study noted the airline did particularly well for in-flight services and aircraft, while Southwest had the edge for costs, boarding/deplaning/baggage and reservations.
  • Overall, low-cost airline carriers fare much better with passenger satisfaction than traditional carriers on both lists. The two airlines that ranked last on the JD Power list, United Airlines and US Airways, both received OK ratings from employees (3.2 and 3.1, respectively). Employees at these airlines have become increasingly more satisfied in recent years – US Airways’ company rating increased by .5 when we compare the past 12 months to the prior 12 months. It’ll be interesting to see if this improved employee satisfaction will translate to improved customer satisfaction in the future.

Share your experience

Do you think employee satisfaction impacts your experience as a customer? Do you have any recent work experiences to share? Tell us your experience by sharing a review for your company (even if it’s not on this list). You never know who you might help!


  • Minimum of 15 company reviews from the past year (5/23/11-5/22/12), no minimum for the prior year (5/23/10-5/22/11); however, n/a will appear for company or CEO ratings fewer than 10. * indicates a company or CEO with 10-14 reviews or ratings.
  • Tie Breakers: For companies with the same company rating during the 2012 time period (5/23/11-5/22/12), the CEO approval rating was used to determine rank. If CEO approval rating matched, number of approved company reviews received during the 2012 time period (5/23/11-5/22/12) determined rank.
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