For the fourth year in a row, The Wall Street Journal ranked Alaska Airlines No. 1 among the nine largest U.S. carriers in its 2016 Airline Scorecard.
Aside from taking the overall top spot, Alaska was first in on-time arrivals and had the fewest extreme delays, fewest 2-hour tarmac delays and fewest complaints. Alaska took third in the canceled flights and involuntary bumping, and fourth in mishandled bags.
“This is a fantastic testament to the skill and dedication of our people,” said CEO Brad Tilden. “The rest of the leadership team and I want to thank all of you for the many things you’ve done across the board, including the particular focus on bags- to keep us No. 1 in our customers’ eyes.”
Data for the scorecard came from GEE Operations Solutions, FlightStats and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Alaska makes biggest improvement in mishandled bags category
Alaska was most improved in the category measuring mishandled bags, coming in fourth in 2016, while Virgin America took the top spot.
In the 2015 WSJ scorecard, Alaska ranked second to last for its rate of mishandled bags. Wanting to improve the score, the company created a baggage team to help decrease the number of mishandled bags. The goal was to centralize the baggage claim process and give employees the tools they need to provide customers with a hassle-free travel experience. As part of this effort, Alaska began barcode scanning every bag before they were loaded on the planes.
Team members also developed the iBagTracker, an app that alerts customer service agents when there was an irregularity with a customer’s bag. Thanks to the cross-divisional efforts from baggage performance staff.
“The team developed new employee-friendly, customer-focused technology, increased accountability through new reports and tools and re-trained local station personnel to resolve customer issues immediately,” said Cees Verkerk, managing director of customer service, station operations.
In the past year, Alaska has decreased the number of baggage claims by 38 percent and reduced the number of delayed bags by 40 percent.
Virgin America ranks No. 3 overall
This year Virgin America ranked No. 3 overall and first in mishandled bags, and second in canceled flights and involuntary bumping.
Alaska’s integration with Virgin America
When it comes to its Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America, Alaska is taking steps to ensure this is the best airline integration in history.
At the moment, Alaska is working to achieve a single operating certificate (SOC) with Virgin America by January 2018. Achieving one operating certificate will also include moving to a single passenger service system and one loyalty program.
Decisions about the future of the Virgin America, including the Virgin America brand and the airline’s Airbus fleet, haven’t been made at this time.