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Southwest Airlines Still Viewed Favorably After Safety Incident

Despite Southwest Airlines’ recent high-profile safety incident when a hole suddenly ripped open in an airliner fuselage, it remains the favorite among four top air carriers as far as Americans are concerned. But among those who travel by air once a month or more, it’s the least favorite of the group.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 63% of Adults hold at least a somewhat favorable impression of Southwest, including 26% with a Very Favorable view of the carrier. Twenty percent (20%) regard the airline unfavorably, but that includes just seven percent with a Very Unfavorable view. Seventeen percent (17%) are not sure what they think.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

In second is American Airlines with favorables of 58% and unfavorables of 25%. That includes 13% with a Very Favorable impression and six percent (6%) with a Very Unfavorable one. Again, 17% are undecided.

Doing nearly as well is United Airlines, viewed favorably by 56%, with eight percent (8%) who have a Very Favorable impression of it. Twenty-four percent (24%) see United unfavorably, including six percent (6%) who hold a Very Unfavorable view. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure what they think of the carrier.

Running fourth among the four carriers Rasmussen Reports asked adults about is US Airways. Fifty-one percent (51%) hold a favorable impression of the carrier, including eight percent (8%) Very Favorable, while 21% regard it unfavorably, with seven percent (7%) Very Unfavorable. But a sizable 28% have no opinion of the airline.

Ask those who travel by commercial airlines once a month or more, however, and there’s a different order. Among these frequent fliers, 67% have a favorable impression of American. Nearly as many (66%) of these frequent fliers regard United favorably and 62% say the same about US Airways. Southwest is right behind at 59%. Given the small sample size of this group, there is little significant difference from top to bottom on this list.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.  

The survey of 1,000 American Adults was conducted on April 4-5, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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