The Best And Worst Airlines In America

Virgin America plane taking off

The ratings for the best and worst airlines in America are in.  Topping the list once again is Virgin America for the third year in a row.

This is the first year for Spirt Airlines on the list and they’ve managed to take up the bottom slot. Probably not the way they wished to enter the rankings.

The data for the best and worst airlines is provided by an annual report compiled by Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott Arizona.  The data is based on publicly available performance ratings focused on:  On-Time departures and arrivals, denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and consumer complaints.

13. Spirit Airlines

Coming in at un-lucky number 13, Spirit Airlines makes its first appearance garnering it the bottom slot.  A low on-time performance rating and higher than industry average number of customer complaints hurt the airlines ranking.

12. Envoy Air

Envoy Air is better known as American Eagle, the regional carrier for American Airlines.  Unfavorable ratings in denied boarding and mishandled baggage were some of the worst in the ratings.  However the airline did make some improvements in these areas but not enough to move it out of the second worst place in the rankings.

11. Frontier Airlines

Frontier, a low cost carrier based out of Denver, Colorado, moved three spots down the list from the previous year’s ranking.  While their denied boarding figures improved, the number of customer complaints almost doubled from the year before.  Combined with an increase in mishandled baggage, Frontier had the worst drop in the airline ratings.

10. American Airlines

Coming in at number 10 on the list, is the new American Airlines. Their score includes the results of the former U.S. Airways with which the company merged.  The airline fared worse than previous years in three areas, baggage handling, on-time arrivals, and involuntary denied boardings.

9. ExpressJet

ExpressJet Airlines is a part of Skywest Airlines and also operates regional service for some of the country’s largest airlines as American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express.  On-time performance and denied boarding rates both improved, and their customer complaint rate is below the industry average.

8. United Airlines

Moving up one spot from last year’s rankings, United Airlines improved in their rate of mishandled baggage and the number of involuntary denied boardings.  These positive improvements helped move United up in the rankings.

7. SkyWest Airlines

SkyWest is a major provider of regional airlines feeding the hubs of American, Alaska Airlines, Delta, and United.  They markedly improved in handling customer issues and their luggage.  Both scores help to push them 3 spots higher in the Airline rankings since the previous year.

6. Southwest Airlines

Holding steady from last year at number 6 in the list comes Southwest Airlines.  Their scores also reflect the merger with AirTran Airlines.  Southwest showed overall improvement across their ratings and are looking at making a move into the top 5 airlines if their scores continue to improve.

5. Alaska Airlines

Originally founded in Anchorage, Alaska Airlines is now based out of Seattle and is a major U.S. airline mainly serving the Western part of the United States.  A recent announcement indicating a merger with Virgin America will make it a large player across the U.S.  This years report show that Alaska Airlines improved in both on-time arrival and involuntary denied passenger boarding.  The airline holds steady at the number 5 spot.

4. Hawaiian Airlines

Dropping a couple spots from last years rankings, Hawaiian Airlines remains one of the best airlines in America.  Based out of Honolulu, Hawaiian offers both domestic and international routes to Asia and Oceania.  Although their overall score declined, Hawaiian still maintains the best on-time performance of any of those on the list.

3. Delta

The largest airline in the United States, Delta remains in the top 3 airlines for a second year in a row.  With improvements in 3 out of the 4 criteria, Delta managed to improve their overall score.

2. JetBlue

The fifth largest carrier in the United States, serving almost 100 destinations, JetBlue returns to the 2nd spot on the list of best and worst airlines in America.  With good scores across the criteria and the 2nd best rating for making sure customers and their bags arrive at the same place, JetBlue is one of the best Airlines.

1. Virgin America

While a relatively new airline, starting service in 2007, Virgin America has ranked number one in the study since it was included in 2012.  While their scores dipped in some areas, their overall rating makes them the best airline on the list.  Their pending merger with Alaska Airlines should see some changes in their combined score in the next year’s ratings.

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Travel Misfit Staff

Travel Misfit Staff

Written by one of our expert travelers and crack staff writers