Published on January 13, 2020  - Updated on December 01, 2023

Benefits of emotional analysis : benchmark for the three most used airlines in the USA

The three most used airlines in the United States are American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Southwest Airlines, so we at Qºemotion decided to analyze their customer reviews via our software’s customer emotional analysis.

Consumer Emotional Analysis Overview


To start our customer emotional analysis, we looked at the airlines’ e-indexes (defined as the synthesis of the main emotions felt in the speech and the corresponding intensity). An e-index can range from -20ºC (the worst: disgust) to 40ºC (the best: happiness).

Q°emotion Dashboard

Q°emotion Dashboard

We see right away that Southwest has the best e-index at 14º, which is calculated by averaging the temperatures of the emotions in each review (we will look more closely at the specific share of the reviews that each emotion occupies later on). Comparatively, American and Delta lag far behind at 3º and 5º. That being said, there are significantly fewer customer reviews for Southwest (149 mentions) than for American (981 mentions) and Delta (988 mentions), so any outliers in the data will have a stronger impact on the average.

Customer Satisfaction Rating Comparison

To continue our customer emotional analysis, we compared the customer satisfaction ratings for the airlines:

Airline satisfaction

Like with the e-indexes, we see that American is the worst at 1.3/5, Delta is not far ahead at 1.6/5, and Southwest is the best at 3/5. We also looked at the mention breakdown by emotion, or in other words, in what percentage of mentions is each of the 7 emotions expressed as the dominant emotion?

Mention Breakdown by Emotion

Emotion Breakdown

The Emotional intensity is measured by calculating the maximum intensity levels evaluated on each of the words used in the subject, taking into account an indicator: the physiological activation of the client's subject. i.e. the impact/raction of the subject on the human body. As we can see all the Airlines studied possess an Emotional intensity around 55%.

Emotional intensity

Emotional Intensity

We see here that for all three airlines, the emotion principally expressed in the highest percentage of mentions is sadness. However, American is the highest, at 67.8%, followed by Delta at 59.5%, then Southwest at 45.6%. Moreover, Southwest has a significantly higher percentage for happiness than the other two airlines, with 38.3%, and its third most expressed emotion is calmness, compared to anger for American and Delta. This shows that overall, customers have more positive emotions toward Southwest than they do toward American and Delta.

Customer Experience Services Breakdown

Now moving onto the specifics of our emotional analysis, we examined the categories in which each airline was the most and the less successful, and their corresponding emotional intensities. All three airlines received positive reviews regarding their on-board staff (flight attendants and pilots), although the emotional intensity for Southwest (up to 30º for some sub-categories) was the highest, with customers referring to Southwest employees as “always friendly” and “amazing”.

Southwest's customer reviews pain points and hot points

Pain points and enchantment points

According to the most prominent comments, Southwest’s biggest strengths are all concerning the people such as building trust with its customers (30°), their empathy level (25°), and the way they act (23°). Comparatively, one of Southwest’s biggest drawbacks is its improper handling of more complicated issues, with many customers saying that they filed complaints, and some even threatened to sue. One customer even wrote, “This is not just an angry customer, they will pay me for my anger, pain, loss, and suffering.”

Delta's customer reviews pain points and hot points

Delta pain points

Moving on to Delta’s customer reviews, customers felt strong positive emotions about the cabin crew and pilots, with an emotional intensity of 14º. Reviews show that customers found Delta’s flight attendants and pilots to be “wonderful”, and “friendly and attentive”. However, the negative customer reviews outweigh the positive ones. A large theme among the reviews is frequent miscommunication and flight delays without proper notice. As well as problem regarding the luggages handling.

American Airlines' customer reviews pain points and hot points

American Airlines Pain points

Finally, American did not have many notable and consistent positive qualities according to the customer reviews analysed for this test. Although it has many positive customer reviews, they are counterbalanced by negative ones. Reviews show that customers have many issues with booking tickets and seats online. One customer wrote, “ I feel betrayed and humiliated by this company. I realize I'm an extremely small cog in this big machine, so I'll take our hard earned dollar elsewhere for future flights.”. The biggets pain point highlighted are reagrding the warranty and customer care with an e-index of -2°.

About our consumer emotional analysis methods

Overall, Southwest Airlines’s customer reviews came out on top in our customer emotional analysis. Even the most positive emotional intensities of categories for Delta and American Airlines were still more positive at Southwest. That being said, there is a lot that these three airline companies can do using their customer reviews to improve the customer experience. Using our software to conduct a customer emotional analysis, we were able to process the airline customer reviews to identify a number of specific improvements that would give customers of these airlines a more positive experience.

It is important to note the factors that affect the data for our emotional analysis such as the source mentionned which were collected on consumers affairs. First, as mentioned, there are fewer customer reviews of Southwest than of American and Delta. Second, the terms collected on each airline are not necessarily the same, but rather, the categories most mentioned for each specific airline, so we cannot directly compare the airlines in this sense.

These comparisons we have made are just some of the numerous insights that we made using the Qºemotion software. If you own a company or a project related to consumer experience and are looking for ways to process your customer reviews and efficiently conduct a customer emotional analysis, Qºemotion can help! Check out our website to request a free demo and see how you can better understand your customers’ emotions and take your company to the next level.

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