Survey: Southwest passenger satisfaction dropped in wake of Boeing 737 crashes

Survey: Southwest passenger satisfaction dropped in wake of Boeing 737 crashes
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Passenger satisfaction for Southwest Airlines has dropped following two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max planes in recent months, according to a new survey.

The survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) showed that Southwest, the biggest user of the 737 Max aircraft, dropped two places from the top spot in passenger satisfaction in 2019, Reuters reported.

The airline now trails Alaska Air Group and JetBlue Airways Corp in passenger satisfaction, the survey found.

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“Recent deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max (for Ethiopian Airlines and Air Lion) have left Southwest particularly vulnerable to safety concerns,” ASCI said in the report, according to Reuters.

Overall, passenger satisfaction for all airlines is up 1.4 percent in 2019 to 74 points, the survey found.

The survey ranks passenger satisfaction based on interviews with thousands of customers on metrics including timeliness of arrival, baggage handling, loyalty programs, cleanliness and in-flight entertainment, Reuters noted.

The results come months after a pair of deadly crashes both involving Boeing 737 Max aircraft. 

In October 2018, a Lion Air crash in Indonesia involving a 737 Max plane left all 189 people on board dead. In March, a Boeing 737 Max plane crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people onboard.

The aircraft's automated flight control system is suspected to have played a role in both crashes. Boeing has since reportedly been developing a software fix to the system, as well as training for pilots who fly the aircraft.

Airlines and regulators across the globe grounded 737 Max planes in mid-March in response to the second crash, and several airlines have said they will not use the planes again until August at the earliest.