Southwest is the second-largest airline at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. JetBlue launched service to Atlanta last year.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines ranked in the middle of the pack, at sixth place out of nine carriers.
Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines tied for last place.
“Customer satisfaction is going to be lower for the ultra-low-cost carriers, which are focused more on price than quality, and the scores reflect that,” ACSI managing director David VanAmburg said in a written statement. “As costs rise and seats shrink, a focus on customer service and loyalty will set some airlines apart.”
Low fuel prices in 2014-2016 led to a decline in air fares, but more recently increases in jet fuel prices and employees’ pay have driven costs up. The ACSI report noted that competition is limited: 80 percent of the U.S. airline market is controlled by four big airlines: United, American, Delta and Southwest.
The survey found that business travelers are more likely to complain than leisure travelers. More than a third of business travelers said they filed a complaint with the airline, versus 11 percent of leisure travelers. Yet business travelers indicated in the survey that they are more satisfied with airlines.