Satisfaction in the Sky? Delta Ranks Highly in J.D. Power Survey

Michigan fliers are better on board with improved cuisine and in-flight entertainment. (Photo Courtesy Delta News Hub)

Michigan fliers are better on board with improved cuisine and in-flight entertainment. (Photo Courtesy Delta News Hub)

J.D. Power released the findings of its 2019 North America Airline Satisfaction Survey and Delta Airlines, the predominant airline serving Michigan, scored very highly.

“Delta finished second in what we call the “traditional carrier” segment behind only Alaska Airlines,” revealed Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power. “Delta has been making some great strides the last few years. I am really impressed an organization that size can improve consistently year after year. They have been on a nice, upward trend.”

Delta flights from Lansing Capital Region International Airport connect travelers to the world, sometimes through Detroit Metro Airport, a Delta hub which is also highly-ranked each year for efficiency and amenities.

“The biggest move Delta had this past year is in-flight services. Delta upgraded some of their in-flight entertainment, but they also upgraded the food and beverages available on a lot of flights,” Taylor noted. Delta flights in the northeast now feature cuisine created by executive chefs at some of New York’s most beloved restaurants; and artisan foods of the American south on flights out of Atlanta, for instance. An award-winning Master Sommelier purveys fine wines system-wide on Delta flights. “The trend toward better food is going to continue. It’s no longer a little hot tray T.V. dinners with tin foil on top like you had in the 1960’s. It’s now more branded, experiential food.”

The Delta Sky Club in Detroit sometimes rolls out a cart serving local Coney dogs and the lounge at New York’s JFK Airport even features an outdoor sky bar with live entertainment.

“We soon will have a Michelin-starred chef preparing meals for flights out of Tokyo,” said Dana Debel, Delta’s director of state and local governmental affairs. “Ed Bastian, our CEO, says we want to bring the magic and joy back to air travel. Travel should be aspirational and special.”

How does J.D. Power compile the rankings?

“We randomly survey 6,000 to 10,000 people who have taken a flight in the last year and ask them 125 questions about their experience,” said Taylor, who noted that digital check-in and advancements in the pre-flight process have delighted all airlines customers, particularly users of the Delta app.

“People who use the app have a more satisfying experience if that app is updating you and advising you of gate changes, time changes or any kind of delays you might be encountering. It’s a great thing to have on your phone,” he said. “J.D. Power’s research reveals two certain things about fliers: they want to be informed and they also want to be respected.”

Spirit and Frontier Airlines ranked the lowest, according to Taylor. “But they’re offering a different category in that they are trying to offer a very cheap flight. Nobody really enjoys it, but they get from point A to point B. Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines, used to say, ‘You can make the pizza so cheap that no one wants to eat it.’ Spirit and Frontier are in that ‘cheap pizza’ category.”


Contact Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels at  His radio program may be heard weekdays at or in Lansing on WJIM am 1240 from 9-noon.

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