Airlines Customers Most Frustrated with Lack of Bag Fee Transparency

To provide in-depth analysis into what is delighting or frustrating travelers, UserTesting, the most advanced on-demand customer insights platform, 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, the company said.

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 US 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.

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 USD 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.

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

UserTesting enables companies to put their customers at the center of every business decision by leveraging the power of human insights. The most advanced on-demand customer insights platform, UserTesting enables product managers, UX researchers and designers, marketers, and digital executives to connect with their exact target customer in a matter of hours and uncover actionable insights that drive ROI. More than 35,000 companies have adopted UserTesting to make smarter business decisions throughout the design and development of their digital experiences as well as in their marketing messaging and competitive positioning. For more information, visit