Customer satisfaction is rising to a record level at hotels but sinking among airline passengers to its lowest point since the September 2001 terrorist attacks. That's the mixed message for travelers in the latest American Customer Satisfaction index released by the University of Michigan.

The index, which rates numerous industries on a zero-to-100 scale, reflects consumers' overall level of satisfaction with the goods and services they buy. About 20,000 consumers, including about 4,000 airline and hotel customers, were surveyed during the first three months this year.

Hotels received a combined score of 75 - the highest grade since the index began in 1994. The average score for companies in all industries surveyed was 74.1. The top hotel score: Hilton Hotels' 78. That's the highest grade since Marriott International scored 80 in 1994.

Airlines had a lower combined score: 65. That's a 1.5% drop from last year's first quarter and the lowest grade since they scored 61 in 2001.

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