The 5 most hated and liked U.S. airlines

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    Complaining about flying is an American pastime, thanks to cramped seats and fees for everything from checking baggage to changing an airline ticket.

    That helps explain why airlines have consistently ranked as one of the lowest-scoring industries with the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, an independent national benchmark of consumer experiences of products and services sold to U.S. consumers.

    Yet there's some hope on the horizon, the ACSI has found in its latest ranking of airlines. American travelers are feeling better about flying, thanks to fares that have dropped because of lower fuel prices and some efforts on the part of airlines to improve customer service, the study found. Customer satisfaction with airlines has increased 4.3 percent, matching the industry's peak in 1994.

    "Airlines have always been one of the lowest-scoring industries in the ACSI because the in-flight experience was miserable," Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and chairman, said in a statement. "Historically, people were generally happy before they got on the plane. Now, that is changing. New planes, more options for in-flight entertainment, and the return of free snacks have resulted in higher passenger satisfaction."

    Still, there are some airlines that Americans love to hate. It may be no surprise that many of those are carriers that target the budget-minded. Even so, a few of the worst-scoring airlines climbed in this year's survey, thanks to the perception of better value.

    The biggest pet peeve for American travelers is seating. Seat comfort remains the the lowest-rated aspect of flying, followed by in-flight services such as food and movies.

    The best part of flying is the ease of the check-in process, the survey found.

    Read on to learn about the 5 most hated and most liked airlines.