It sounds counterintuitive, especially in light of recent headlines involving bumped fliers, the violent removal of a passenger, and overbooking, but the results of a new JD Power survey reveal that customer satisfaction with airlines in North America is on the rise.

Overall satisfaction with the airline industry in 2017 increased by 30 points in the latest edition of the JD Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study, reaching its highest level ever in the study's 13-year history, thanks to lower fares, better on-time performance and fewer lost bags.

In fact, analysts note that customer satisfaction has been rising steadily since 2013.

Interestingly, despite what seems to be a rash of bumping and offloading incidents publicized over the last few weeks, the latest report found that the practice of bumping reached historic lows in frequency in the last year.

Analysts also found that denied boarding, bumping and forced re-booking have the greatest negative influence on overall satisfaction.

"It's impossible to think about airline customer satisfaction without replaying the recent images of a passenger being dragged from a seat, but our data shows that, as a whole, the airline industry has been making marked improvements in customer satisfaction across a variety of metrics, from ticket cost to flight crew," said Michael Taylor, travel practice lead at J.D. Power.

"As recent events remind us, however, airlines have significant room for improvement. Airlines still rank among the bottom tier of most service industries tracked by J.D. Power, far lower than North American rental car companies or hotels."

The report is based on the responses of 11,015 passengers polled between April 2016 and March 2017, who flew on a major North American airline for the 12-month period ending March 2017.

Both traditional and low-cost carriers showed improvement this year.

In 2016, the average North American airfare fell nearly 9 per cent to $479, helping to drive up satisfaction levels in the category of fees to its highest level since 2006.

The survey also showed that business travelers are more likely to post a comment about their air travel experience than leisure travelers (21 per cent vs 8 per cent).

Interestingly, 75 per cent of social media comments are described as positive by those doing the posting.

Meanwhile, for the 10th consecutive year, Alaska Airlines was ranked the top traditional carrier in North America, followed by Delta Air Lines.Air Canada was ranked fifth.

For the first time, Southwest Airlines topped the list of best low-cost carrier, bumping JetBlue to second place. WestJet ranked third.

Airlines are evaluated on fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding, deplaning, and baggage, flight crew, check-in and reservation.