Discount Airlines Sweep Quality Ratings Report

JetBlue led the way as four discount airlines garnered top honors in the 16th annual Airline Quality Rating report. The report, authored by Brent Bowen of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Dean Headley of Wichita State University in Kansas, shows New York-based JetBlue rated number one for the third year, followed by AirTran Airways, the now-defunct Independence Air, and Southwest Airlines. The highest rated traditional carrier for 2005 was United Airlines, which ranked fifth, but its overall score was also down from its 2004 result. In fact, almost every carrier rated in the report performed worse than in 2004, the authors said. The report uses a statistical index to track trends in U.S. airlines' customer service. Overall, the industry's Airline Quality Rating score for 2005 declined for the second-consecutive year, hitting its lowest point since 2000.

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