Press Release


1,000 Travelers Evaluated the Website Experiences of the Top 10 U.S. Airlines; Customers Most Frustrated with Lack of Bag Fee Transparency

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – September 7, 2017 – Future Travel Experience – Airlines are not only competing against each other for travelers’ business, they’re also being held to standards of excellent digital and in-person customer experience set by innovative companies from other industries. For airlines, the customer experience relies heavily on the desktop website where nearly 60% of bookings take place, yet airline web experiences are severely lacking.

To provide in-depth analysis into what is delighting or frustrating travelers, UserTesting, the most advanced on-demand customer insights platform, today published the Airline Customer Experience Index – a competitive benchmarking study comparing the desktop web user experiences (UX) of the top 10 airlines in the United States: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, United, and Virgin America.

1,000 travelers evaluated the desktop websites based on five factors—Ease of Use, Speed, Credibility, Aesthetics, and Delight—which UserTesting has identified as key user experience attributes through 10 years of helping companies leverage human insights to improve ROI and increase loyalty. Consistent with Forrester Research’s U.S. Customer Experience Index, 2017 – which found overall airline CX performance to be dismal – all ten airlines in this study received mediocre-to-low scores in most desktop website attributes and experiences.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Overall highest-rated airline was Southwest Airlines, given the speed with which travelers could locate flight information and complete tasks. Travelers noted the minimal amount of effort required to achieve their goals made the experience fast and positive.
  • Overall lowest-rated airline was Spirit Airlines, given the amount of time it took to find the cost of a flight and the additional time required to create an account. Additionally, some travelers felt the airline was hiding information, decreasing their level of trust in it.
  • Finding the cost of checking bags was by far the lowest-scoring task, and the most difficult task for travelers on 9 out of 10 of the websites (the exception was JetBlue where locating flight arrival information was the most difficult). Travelers disliked having to either create an account, wait until checkout, or go through a series of pages for pricing.
  • Credibility was the highest-scoring factor, due to most airlines’ well-established brand reputation; however, Aesthetics impacted Credibility as well. For Virgin America and Alaska, two airlines that scored high in Credibility, travelers remarked that the clean, professional look of the websites made them confident in the brand. (Alaska bought Virgin America for $2.6 billion in 2016, but not many changes expected until 2018.)
  • Delight was the lowest-scoring, most elusive factor, given that travelers expected straightforward information about flights, arrival times, and pricing – expectations that went unfulfilled. Seven out of ten airlines scored lower in Delight than all other attributes.

“Airlines are not traditionally known for delivering delightful customer experiences,” said Brian Smith, VP of Marketing at UserTesting. “It’s a tall order to connect every customer touchpoint, but repeated roadblocks on any channel can quickly diminish customer loyalty – a critical driver of ROI. To keep up with the rising demands from the market, airlines need to put the customer at the center of every booking decision, from the desktop web to the in-flight experience.”

UserTesting makes this announcement from booth A11 at the Future Travel Experience Global conference. Press and attendees are invited to visit the booth to connect with UserTesting directly and pick up a complimentary copy of the Airline CX Index.

Research Methodology

For the second installment of the UserTesting CX Index Series, the Airline Customer Experience Index, UserTesting ran a competitive benchmarking study – from June 29, 2017 to July 12, 2017 – of the top 10 U.S. airlines. 1,000 travelers (100 per airline) evaluated the airlines’ desktop websites based on five key user experience factors (see above). Each traveler attempted to complete a series of standard tasks on the airline websites from their desktop or laptop computers and then respond to rating-scale questions about their experience, resulting in both quantitative data and qualitative insights.

A copy of the full Airline CX Index, including charts, is available at To view UserTesting’s inaugural Retail Mobile Customer Experience Index, visit

Media Contact

UserTesting, Inc.
Andy Dear 

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