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Canadian and US flyers say airline industry is broken, but differ on how to fix it

Whether it’s beating, bumping, or merely aggravating passengers, North American airlines are landing at the bottom of the customer service list in the minds of their customers.

viral video of a passenger refusing to be “bumped” from his seat and being dragged from a United Airlines flight generated millions of views and brought the issue to the top of both airline and government agendas.

But beyond the negative headlines, a new study from the Angus Reid Institute finds that Canadian and American air travellers alike say incidents like this one really are a symbol of a bigger problem permeating the air travel industry.

And, while a majority of residents in both nations agree that the industry is broken, they have differing perspectives on what should be done about it. Canadians are more supportive of government regulation, while Americans are inclined to say the free market will punish subpar airlines, and governments should stay out of the industry.

Key Findings:

  • Southwest Airlines and JetBlue emerge as the top-rated airlines for American travellers, while United receives the worst ratings. Among Canadian respondents, WestJet fares significantly better than Air Canada, with customers three times more likely to say their experience was “excellent”
  • Two-in-three Canadians (65%) and six-in-ten Americans (58%) say that airlines operate as a cartel, restricting competition and holding prices higher than they should be.
  • Few respondents from either country see the airline industry moving in the right direction. Roughly four-in-ten Canadians (44%) and Americans (38%) say it has worsened in the last 10 years, while only one-in-ten Canadians (9%) and 15 per cent of Americans say it has improved


  • Part 1 – Views of the airline industry as a whole

    • Competition and value for money

    • A deep-seated problem or media hyperbole?

  • Part 2 – Specific assessments of North America’s eight largest airlines

Link to the full story here:

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