msnbc.com news services
updated 5/20/2011 12:33:22 PM ET 2011-05-20T16:33:22

Another day, another industry laurel for Southwest Airlines. The company, which was rated as the best airline by Consumer Reports last week, was the highest-ranked carrier in a customer experience survey conducted by Nunwood, a global marketing research company.

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Story: Southwest and JetBlue top-rated in survey

Nearly 4,900 U.S. adults participated in the online survey in the last week of March 2011. The survey gauged whether a company met a customer's specific needs; met or surpassed expectations; and made the experience easy. In seventh place, Southwest ranked just below the movie subscription service Netflix, but higher than Apple, which tied with Subway for 10th place.

JetBlue ranked 34th while Continental and US Airways tied for 95th, according to the blog Sky Talk.

In a ranking of the world's largest airlines, however, Southwest slipped from 5th to 6th. Though the airline saw a 9.4 percent increase in its weekly capacity — growing from about 3.1 million passengers to 3.4 million between April 2010 and April 2011 — Lufthansa surged past the Dallas-Ft. Worth-based carrier with 12.1 percent growth in capacity. The list, put together by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, also showed major growth for the European discount airline Ryanair, which increased capacity by 22.9 percent.

Delta remains the largest carrier, but as CAPA noted, the ongoing merger of United and Continental will create the world's biggest airline, surpassing Delta's capacity by 10 percent.

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