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Canadians don’t appear happy with Air Canada. But we love WestJet and Transat.

A new study by reputable pollsters Angus Reid is giving Air Canada officials something to think about. It also suggests Canadians are none too happy with airlines in general.

An Angus Reid report I spotted today found that 50% of Canadians rate Montreal-based Air Canada as “good” or “excellent,” while 17% gave our biggest airline a rating of “poor” or “terrible.”

Air Canada

Things were considerably brighter for Calgary-based WestJet. Angus Reid said its study found that 77% of Canadians rate WestJet either good or excellent, while a measly 4% gave them a poor or terrible rating.

That’s a pretty big difference, folks.

To be honest, I don’t quite understand. I like WestJet just fine, and they do an excellent job. But I’ve never quite been sure what it is Canadians, some Canadians anyway, have against Air Canada. It’s a big airline and it makes mistakes, but they all do.

Maybe I’m biased as I use Air Canada lot and have frequently flyer status. I like their schedules to San Francisco as my family is out there and it makes the most sense for me to fly with them, and to use their Aeroplan frequent flyer program to see my Dad and my sister and my niece. (At least for now; Air Canada will be setting up its own frequent flyer program in a couple years and leaving Aeroplan behind.)

Either way, it’s interesting material and certainly food for thought.

WestJet flight crews get great marks from most passengers.

What’s also interesting is that I spotted a study today by a group called Air Help that rated Montreal-based Air Transat as the number five airline IN THE WORLD. No other Canadian or North American airline made the top ten, so that’s quite interesting.

Transat perhaps isn’t as luxurious as other airlines, but they deliver very good value. And that’s worth a lot in a world where Canadians gaze longingly at cheap fares in the U.S.

I flew from Oakland, California to Las Vegas last year for $54 USD. Even with the exchange rate we have today that’s less than $80 Cdn. Try getting a 50-minute flight in Canada for that price!

I don’t know the methodology of these studies, so I’d take the results with a pinch of salt. Still, it’s gotta be encouraging for Transat and for rapidly expanding WestJet, and more than a little troubling for Air Canada.

A new study names AirTransat the fifth best airline in the world.

The Angus Reid survey also looked beyond airline favourites and asked Canadians (and Americans) about the industry in general. The study found that 65% of Canadians feel the system is broken and that airlines operate like a cartel, with minimal competition that leads to poor service and poor prices. Only 58% of Americans, where prices are cheaper and there’s considerably more competition, felt that way.

Asked to rate the best-known US airlines, American respondents in the Angus Reid study gave the top ratings to Southwest (86% of those surveyed gave them a mark of good or excellent) and Jetblue (84% good or excellent). The worst? American Airlines (64% good or excellent) and public relations-challenged United (56% good or excellent, which is still better than Air Canada got from Canadians).

Only 12% of Americans said they’ve had poor or terrible experiences with United, compared with 17% of Canadians slapping that rating on Air Canada.

Yikes.

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