In a world where travel links people and organizations across great distances, the quality of airline services is critical to ensuring a pleasant and satisfying voyage. We hope to give insight into the airlines that succeed in meeting consumer expectations, ensuring dependable operations, and prioritizing safety in an ever-changing and dynamic industry by scrutinizing these critical components.
This article will examine the top airlines in the United States, grading them on a variety of critical aspects such as customer happiness, dependability, and safety.
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Top 10 US Airlines Ranking
Here is a list of the top 10 airlines in the United States:
- Delta Airlines
- United Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Allegiant Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
Let us go over the top 10 US airlines in detail:
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1. Delta Air Lines
Delta Airlines received a total score of 66.31 for its timeliness and efficient management of involuntary bumps. However, affordability remained the company’s weakest link. Delta had a significant rank (not given) the previous year.
Delta continues to receive excellent accolades for the quality of its in-flight service as well as its on-ground facilities, such as beautifully appointed Sky Clubs at major airports in the United States. For example, consider the airline’s spectacular new $4 billion terminal at New York’s revamped LaGuardia Airport, which features high ceilings, wood and marble accents, and eye-catching artwork by local artists.
Delta is aiming to make flight travel as easy as possible with high-tech advances during check-in and boarding. Passengers also love in-flight amenities such as free text messaging and, for those at the front of the plane, snug Delta One business class suites on the airline’s new Airbus A350 jetliners and other wide-body jets.
You’ll be able to take advantage of those benefits on journeys to even more exotic locations, such as Tahiti, Tel Aviv, and Cape Town, thanks to an increasing route map.
2. United Airlines
United Airlines had a score of 62.47, highlighting its strengths in family travel, route network, and frequent flyer programs. United’s areas for improvement were baggage handling and pricing. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
The Chicago-based carrier offers an extensive and ever-expanding network of foreign destinations from its eight hubs across the United States (including Guam).
In response to the epidemic, the airline eliminated change costs for most flights, and it would soon add 270 new Boeing and Airbus planes to its fleet. The new planes will, of course, make your travel more pleasant and high-tech, but they will also lower carbon emissions by 17 to 20% per seat when compared to earlier jets.
3. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines had a score of 60.54, outperforming the competition in terms of lounges and overall customer happiness. Its weakest link turned out to be baggage handling. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
Alaska Airlines is a perennial favorite, with high marks for its dependability, courteous flight staff, and large rewards program. You’d almost forget it’s now the fifth-largest airline in the United States, thanks to onboard service that incorporates Pacific Northwest regional touches like local wine and artisan beer. Not unexpectedly, its route map has expanded beyond the boundaries of its name, spanning from Hawaii to New York and from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico and Latin America.
The airline recently announced a cooperation with Twelve, a business that manufactures sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) from collected carbon dioxide, in keeping with its home location in the tech-friendly Seattle metro region.
4. American Airlines
American Airlines displayed strength in its route network and award availability with a score of 59.83. However, luggage management and cost were obstacles. Its prior year’s ranking was unknown.
American is the world’s largest airline in terms of fleet size and number of scheduled passengers, with 10 domestic hubs, including Miami and Dallas/Fort Worth. With new services to unexpected places like San Andres Island, Colombia, and Chetumal, Mexico, the airline has emerged as a key player in the Caribbean and Latin America from these Southern Airline’s home bases.
This city, the capital of the Yucatán state of Quintana Roo, is the carrier’s 28th in Mexico, more than any other U.S. airline. In August 2022, American Airlines agreed to purchase 20 Boom Supersonic jets, which will change its transatlantic and transpacific services.
5. Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines had a score of 56.29 for eliminating bag/change costs and assuring award availability. Its performance suffered as a result of difficulties in handling cancellations and lounge services. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
Southwest has long expanded beyond the geographic bounds suggested by its name, with a route network that currently runs from Hawaii to Latin America and the Caribbean. Travelers may take advantage of the low tickets and consumer-friendly “bags fly free” policy no matter where they fly, but they must endure some of the carrier’s eccentricities, such as the love-it-or-hate-it boarding process.
Newer facilities, including in-flight Wi-Fi, have smoothed the rough edges of the airline’s basic customer experience, which on most routes consists of a complimentary beverage and a snack, but bargain hunters will seldom find a better value in the skies.
6. Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines received a score of 54.71 for properly managing cancellations and involuntary bumps. However, one recognized area for improvement was the route network’s performance. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
Hawaiian began as a local-service puddle jumper and has since expanded to run a network of inter-island and U.S. mainland services, as well as long-distance flights across the Pacific area.
Readers enjoy the premium cabin, which includes lie-flat seating on some ultra-long flights, and all passengers can enjoy island-inspired food and beverage options such as Maui Brewing Company beer and hard seltzer, Honolulu-roasted Lion Coffee, caramel macadamia nut popcorn, and furikake chips. They also collaborated with On the Rocks in 2016 to create a collection of bottled cocktails, which currently includes a Mai Tai, a passionfruit-infused Molokai Mule, and the Tropical Landing, which combines gin with violet, coconut, guava, and citrus.
If punctuality is important to you, Hawaiian is consistently regarded as the most reliable carrier in the country.
7. JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airlines had a score of 47.68 for its cabin characteristics. However, it had challenges in terms of timing, cancellations, and accommodating wheelchairs/scooters. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
JetBlue customers have a new motivation to select the airline that serves their hometown: The company started its long-awaited flights to London from JFK Airport in 2021 with an expanded Mint Class premium cabin outfitted with huge flat-bed sleeper seats, and they added routes from Boston to both Heathrow and Gatwick last year.
Other recent developments, including new seats and extra legroom across the plane, are also proving popular with travelers. Not to be ignored is JetBlue’s free Wi-Fi, sometimes known as “Fly-Fi,” which provides one of the fastest internet connections in the air, and the airline is one of the few that still provides seat-back videos—complete with free live TV.
8. Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines had a score of 38.99, highlighting affordability as a notable area. Issues in handling wheelchairs/scooters and optimizing its route network persisted. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
One of the nicest things about Spirit Airlines is that it is not the worst airline in the country. Spirit’s low AirAdvisor Airline Score of 37 does not dissuade the almost 40 million travelers who fly with them each year. They do, however, have something to say about it, and Spirit Airlines’ customer reputation rating is 9th, somewhat lower than its total ranking.
9. Allegiant Air
Allegiant Airlines had a score of 37.04 for handling involuntary bumps, bags, and wheelchairs/scooters. Timeliness, cabin features, and family-related services were all issues of concern. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
Passengers support Allegiant because of its consistently reliable service at a fair price. Our readers love the low-cost carrier’s low-cost (and, admittedly, frill-free—bring your food!) offers.
They also like Allegiant because, in the words of one reader, it is “the best airline for regional airports.” Savannah to Akron-Canton, Grand Rapids to Sarasota (“my only choice,” writes one reader), and any place to Tampa-Clearwater Bay are among the routes mentioned. Round-trip tickets on the previous route begin at about $120.
10. Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines had a score of 27.74, excelling mostly in affordability. However, concerns with involuntary bumps, consumer happiness, and several fee-related issues hampered its overall effectiveness. Its ranking from the prior year was not revealed.
The Denver-based low-cost carrier claims to be North America’s cleanest airline, with a much lower carbon footprint than competitors, owing to modest and large efforts such as 30% lighter seats, fuel-efficient engines, and biodegradable cups.
Since the mid-1990s, the airline has painted its tails with larger-than-life creatures as a symbol of its environmental sensitivity, such as newcomers Francie the piping plover, Crystal the Florida manatee, and Hudson the bog turtle. Frontier just added ten new nonstop trips to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
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Findings of Latest Analysis About Airlines’ Operations
Here are some key findings from the latest analysis.
Delta Airlines Won the Title for the 5th Consecutive Time
Delta remained the top carrier for the sixth year in a row, demonstrating strong performance across all areas while obtaining lower grades in price.
Southwest Airline’s Operational Setback
Southwest Airlines encountered operational issues during the holidays, dropping from second to fifth place last year. The carrier’s performance in terms of punctuality, cancellations, luggage handling, and customer satisfaction all fell by 4.63 points from the previous year. It would have remained in second place if not for this setback.
Significant Improvements in Alaska and Spirit Airlines
Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines both made major improvements, with Alaska improving affordability in fares and ancillary fees and Spirit significantly improving customer happiness, resulting in rankings increases.
Mixed Performance Trends Among Airlines
Only a few airlines, including Spirit, Alaska, United, and American, performed better this year than in prior years. Delta and six other companies, on the other hand, saw their rankings fall, indicating a general drop in performance.
Overall Decline in Airlines’ Performance
Overall, airlines performed worse in 2022 than they did in 2021. Metrics such as an 87.6% increase in consumer complaints, a 22.67% increase in pricing per 1,000 passenger miles, an 87.45% increase in forced bumps, a 54% increase in cancellations, and a 25% increase in mishandled luggage illustrate the industry’s difficulty in fulfilling the rising demand for air travel.
What Methodology is Used for Airlines Rankings?
By deconstructing the data, including reliability, experience, cost, reach, and loyalty, these specific categories are utilized to analyze and assess each airline.
It includes timelines, cancellations, involuntary bumps, baggage, and wheelchairs/scooters.
The dependability of airlines is determined by a number of parameters, which account for 30% of the evaluation criterion. This involves analyzing the timeliness of delayed flight records obtained from the Department of Transportation.
Furthermore, the frequency of flight cancellations is extensively examined using data given by the Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) as well as an assessment of involuntary refused boarding incidents to determine the airline’s consistency.
Another crucial part is luggage handling, which is based on mishandled baggage statistics provided by the D.O.T. Furthermore, the handling of wheelchairs and scooters is rigorously monitored using data on mishandled luggage, which contributes considerably to an airline’s overall dependability evaluation.
It includes cabin features, lounges, family, customer satisfaction, etc.
When it comes to assessing airlines, the experience they provide is important, accounting for 25% of the assessment criterion. This includes an examination of many elements. Cabin characteristics are extensively evaluated by examining in-flight amenities available on airlines’ websites.
The examination includes lounges, taking into account their number, distribution, and membership prices. The rating also takes into account the airline’s family-friendly initiatives, such as onboarding procedures, benefits, and the quality of onboard food and entertainment for families. Finally, customer satisfaction is an important factor that is assessed by meticulously scrutinizing customer complaint data given by the D.O.T.
Costs & Reach (20%) and Loyalty (25%)
Cost and reach include route network, affordability, and bag/change fees. Whereas loyalty can be evaluated through frequent flyers and award availability.
The issue of costs and reach has a weight of 20% in calculating airline rankings, taking into account several aspects. The monthly average of domestic cities serviced, as reported by the D.O.T., is a critical component in determining an airline’s reach. Affordability is rigorously assessed using financial data analysis acquired from the BTS, which includes a thorough examination of the airline’s pricing structure.
Furthermore, a comprehensive examination of bag and change fees produced from BTS financial data greatly helps with this judgment. The review also includes an examination of loyalty factors, with an emphasis on the quality of frequent flyer programs offered by airlines and the availability of prizes for customers, which influence the ranking process.
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- Raw scores are transformed into scaled scores ranging from 0 to 10.
- Where applicable, the best-performing or “perfect” airline gets a score of 10.
- Airlines are assessed in reference to the airline with the lowest performance.
- Scaled scores reflect performance in comparison to the carrier with the lowest score.
- To obtain the final cumulative score, individual scores are modified using weighted percentages.
- To evaluate the top airlines in America, careful research is conducted on over 25 components across four key categories.
- The cumulative scores reflect these weighted assessments.
Best Airlines for Overseas Travel from the US
Although every airline we assessed offers domestic flights, not all offer international service, even if they do offer limited foreign itineraries. Delta, United, and American carriers are the top options among foreign carriers. These airlines excel at comfort, which is especially important for long trips lasting more than 5 hours.
Choosing Delta, United, or American ensures a better experience with more comfortable seats, extensive in-flight entertainment, and complimentary beverages. Furthermore, these three airlines are the most dependable alternatives for foreign travel, which is critical given the common participation of connections in international flights.
Most Reliable US Airline with the Lowest Disruption Rate
When assessing an airline’s overall reliability, we looked at more than just delayed and canceled flights. While these are important factors, we also investigated cases of refused boarding and mishandled luggage, noting their significant influence on your travel experience. This thorough examination resulted in our disruption rate score.
Delta is our top-ranking airline in terms of overall dependability, with the greatest score when all factors are evaluated. Hawaiian Airlines takes second place overall, while Allegiant Air outperforms Hawaiian and Delta in the sub-category of mishandled luggage or refused boarding.
However, Hawaiian and Delta have higher overall ratings due to their constant reliability in flight operations, as opposed to Allegiant, which has a lower level of reliability. Notably, Allegiant is the least dependable US carrier in terms of delayed, canceled, and diverted flights.
While dependability is critical, it is important to realize that even the best-rated carriers occasionally have delays. It is critical to remember that in circumstances of three-hour or longer delays, customers may be eligible for flight delay compensation.
Safest Airlines in America
Before delving into this topic, it’s important to note that every US airline on our list values safety. The 2022 evaluation showed a few occurrences, none of which resulted in deaths.
The investigation identified three major events involving tail strikes in 2022. A tail strike happens when the plane’s tail makes contact with the runway during takeoff or landing, which is more prevalent during landing.
The seven airlines that maintained a perfect safety record during our study period are without a doubt the safest alternatives in the United States. These airlines, listed alphabetically, include Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines.
To present a more thorough picture, Frontier, JetBlue, and Delta Airlines stand out since they all had comparable non-fatal tail impact occurrences that resulted in significant aircraft damage, according to IATA statistics. As a result, of the analyzed airlines, these three had the worst safety records in 2022.
Top 5 Airlines by Customer Reputation Score
Peer reviews are an excellent predictor of an airline’s service excellence. It’s worth noting that, in general, there are more negative reviews than good ones, so even top scores may not look especially high. Several airlines stand out as top achievers in this area.
Alaska Airlines claims the top spot based on non-professional assessments from nine different sources. Despite appearing to be small, their total average score of 3.04 out of 5 is the highest, closely followed by Hawaiian Airlines at 3.03.
Southwest Airlines is third among the top five airlines in the United States for consumer reputation, with a score of 2.97. Delta Airlines, although losing its prior top rank, receives an average of 2.69, placing it fourth. Finally, JetBlue maintains generally favorable evaluations with a score of 2.64, lagging Delta, the overall champion in this area.
Airlines Known for Reliability
Various elements might impact air travel comfort, but an airline’s core job remains to transport passengers to their destinations as quickly as possible. Our ratings place a high value on operational reliability, which accounts for 30% of our yearly research.
- Timeliness: The frequency of flight delays.
- Cancellations: How often were flights canceled?
- Bumps/involuntary denied boarding: Instances of passengers being bumped from oversold flights against their will.
- Baggage handling: Incidences of mishandled checked luggage.
- Wheelchairs/Scooters: Mishandling the frequency of mobility devices.
- Hawaiian Airlines retains its lead as the most dependable US airline for the third straight year. It has a cancellation rate of less than 1% and an involuntary bump rate of less than 1%.
- Delta Airlines is close behind, excelling in punctuality and having the fewest passenger bumps.
- Allegiant Airlines provides opposing measurements for dependability. While it excels in involuntary bumps, luggage handling, and mobility device management, it falls short on on-time arrivals and cancellation rates.
- American Airlines has much more luggage mishandling issues than Allegiant.
- Spirit Airlines trails Allegiant in the handling of mobility equipment, with a substantially higher mishandling rate.
- Frontier Airlines has the highest involuntary bump rate, with a significant number of people involuntarily refusing boarding, far greater than other airlines.
These many indicators reflect the various strengths and weaknesses across airlines in terms of operational reliability, which affects passenger experiences while flying.
Airlines Known for Travel Experience
Aside from general dependability, travelers frequently prefer airlines that provide a comfortable onboard experience, including amenities such as large seats, family-friendly services, and in-flight connections. This trip experience sector accounted for 25% of our study, with an emphasis on:
- Cabin Features: Inclusive of Wi-Fi availability, seat dimensions, and inflight entertainment.
- Lounge Access: The extent and accessibility of airline lounges.
- Family Services: Consideration for families traveling with children.
- Customer Satisfaction: Frequency of complaints reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The top four airlines in the United States for travel experience are as follows:
- JetBlue maintains its lead in cabin comforts, including free Wi-Fi across the fleet, seatback TVs, and the most roomy economy seats in the United States.
- Alaska Airlines is a leader in lounge access, offering access not just to its lounges but also to several other lounge networks. Furthermore, Alaska achieves good customer satisfaction with a low number of complaints per 100,000 passengers.
- Allegiant ranks worst in terms of cabin facilities, with fewer amenities and smaller seats than other carriers.
- Frontier has the highest complaint rate, far outperforming other airlines in this regard. This rate is significantly higher than the industry average and approximately nine times that of Alaska.
It is critical to note that there has been a general increase in consumer complaints across US airlines compared to the prior year, representing an 87.6% increase in complaints per 100,000 passengers from 2021 to 2022.
Airlines Known for Cost and Reach
Aside from convenience, an airline’s decision is based on destination reach and pricing. The “cost and reach” category, which accounts for 20% of our review, digs into the following factors:
- Route Network: The breadth of an airline’s domestic airport coverage.
- Affordability: The value of airfare based on the distance traveled, derived from Bureau of Transportation Statistics data.
- Ancillary Fees: The expenses incurred through baggage and change/cancellation fees.
The diverse range of major US airlines, ranging from legacy carriers with broad route networks to low-cost carriers, exhibits a complicated interplay between destination coverage and pricing.
- Legacy airlines such as United, American, and Delta have extensive route networks, with an annual average of 210 to 235 destinations. Hawaiian, on the other hand, services far fewer airports, with an average of less than 22.
- Surprisingly, US airlines are more expensive, with Delta ranked at the lowest, followed by American and United Airlines. Spirit Airlines continues to be the most economical, charging only $126.15 per 1,000 miles traveled per person, followed closely by Frontier and Allegiant.
- The year-over-year increase in flight prices across all evaluated airlines is remarkable, with Allegiant seeing the least increase and some carriers, including American, Frontier, Southwest, and Spirit, suffering significant increases of more than 25%.
- Southwest shines out in terms of ancillary expenses by offering two free checked bags and charging no change or cancellation fees, resulting in minimum extra charges per passenger. Low-cost airlines such as Allegiant, Spirit, and Frontier, on the other hand, add significantly more to travelers’ bills through excess baggage fees.
- These numerous indicators highlight the delicate balance between route coverage, affordability, and ancillary fees, which shapes the overall cost-effectiveness of major US airlines.
Airlines Known for Loyalty
The final component of our research, accounting for 25% of the total analysis, focuses on loyalty, a topic dear to TPG’s editorial staff. We evaluated airlines in this category based on two essential factors:
- Frequent Flyer Program: Evaluating the rewards and benefits offered, encompassing TPG’s valuations, elite status, cobranded credit cards, partner networks, and policies regarding point expiration.
- Award Availability: Assessing the ease and value of redeeming rewards, especially during popular travel periods.
United Airlines continues to thrive in rewarding frequent fliers with a diverse network of partner airlines, including a recent agreement with Emirates. They also provide four unique consumer credit cards.
- Delta closely follows United, exceeding American, which is in the minority by allowing most members (save those under 21) to have their miles expire.
- American Airlines shines out in terms of reward availability, with high redemption values found over the majority of days checked.
- Low-cost airlines, on the other hand, face difficulties in the loyalty category due to restricted partners, tight expiration rules, and limited award availability.
- Frontier Airlines comes in worst in this category, followed by Allegiant, Hawaiian, and Spirit, all of which lag below their larger competitors in terms of loyalty program richness and reward accessibility.
Your airline of choice has a huge influence on your travel experience. Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue Airways regularly outperform in numerous areas, according to our research. Nonetheless, each airline has its own set of strengths and shortcomings, stressing the significance of matching your selection to your interests.
When choosing an airline for your next vacation, consider cost, reliability, elite status incentives, and the in-flight experience. While no single carrier can completely meet the demands of every traveler, our yearly analysis uses objective data to identify the firm that best meets consumer expectations.
Delta Air Lines wins TPG’s top U.S. airline accolade for the sixth year in a row. However, Delta’s total score dropped nearly 6% from last year, while its nearest competitors—Alaska, American, and United—scored better this year. It remains to be seen if this decline represents a momentary blip or a possible challenge to Delta’s continuing supremacy.
What Are The Best Airlines In The US?
According to Conde Nast Traveler’s 2023 Readers’ Choice Awards, the best airlines in the United States are Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, Tradewind Aviation, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.
What Is The Best Airline To Fly With?
Delta Airlines leads the AirAdvisor Airline Score list and has been voted the best airline for 2022 and 2023 (so far). When flying with Delta, you can anticipate a high level of service, a comfortable flight, and on-time arrivals. Furthermore, this well-known airline is great for flying with children or pets.
Which Airline Has The Best First-Class Cabin and Perks?
You can’t go wrong with American Airlines on one of their A321 planes for domestic or international travel. The Flagship First Class Section has lie-flat seats in a one-seat-per-row format on each side of the aisle, as well as chef-curated in-flight beverages. JetBlue’s Mint category offers the finest business class in the US, with its spacious seats, privacy screens, many plug connections, and tapas-style food.
Which Airline Has The Best Premium Economy?
According to Skytrax, Delta ranks first among US airlines with this feature for premium economy. Delta ranks fifth in the world in this area. This is consistent with AirAdvisor’s Airline Score, which rates Delta as the most comfortable airline in the United States. In terms of which airline has the best economy seats, JetBlue has the greatest passenger space.
What Airlines Are Good to Travel With?
JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest, and American Airlines are among the best airlines to fly on, despite not being overall winners according to our AirAdvisor Airline Score. They are all in the center of the pack and would be a good pick for your next flight.