A report released Wednesday has revealed the best and worst airlines to fly within the United States, and a company named after the 49th state again took home top honors.
In its 13th annual report — the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study — noted customers are happier than ever, but the love wasn’t spread equally. The list, which names and shames the worst airlines, should prove to be vital ahead of the summer vacation season.
Coloring the results below are airline horror stories of recent weeks. Last month, United Airlines dragged a man off a plane after he refused to give up his seat on an overbooked flight to Chicago. Later in April, news broke that the airline industry accounted for a third of animal deaths in the United States in the last five years.
“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, in a statement about the results.
And the bad news keeps coming: On Monday, a passenger brawl broke out at Fort Lauderdale’s airport after a flight was canceled, an ongoing issue as Spirit Airlines struggles to find pilots. Nearly 300 flights have been canceled over the past seven days, leaving travelers who booked with the airline furious.
Top of the list in terms of traditional carriers is Alaska Airlines. The carrier ranked first for the 10th year running and scored highly in all seven areas. Alaska Airlines serves 17 million customers in over 60 cities and three countries, with its main base of operation in Anchorage.
On the low-cost side, Southwest Airlines topped the list for the first time. The airline serves 101 cities in nine countries and operates nearly 4,000 flights per day. Its focus on affordable flights over the past 39 years came during a large-scale expansion of the market, as many Americans began to travel by plane.
The survey measured cost and fees, in-flight services, aircraft, boarding deplaning and baggage, flight crew, check-in, and reservation. The survey asked 11,015 passengers that flew on these airlines for their thoughts on these seven categories between April 2016 and March 2017.
The rankings are listed below. Worth noting is that a lot of customers place a higher satisfaction with low-cost carriers.
Traditional Carrier Ranking (average rating is 740/1,000 points)
1. Alaska Airlines: 765/1,000 points
2. Delta Airlines: 758/1,000 points
3. American Airlines: 736/1,000 points
4. United Airlines: 716/1,000 points
5. Air Canada: 709/1,000 points
Low-Cost Carrier Ranking (average rating is 784/1,000 points)
1. Southwest Airlines: 807/1,000 points
2. JetBlue Airways: 803/1,000 points
3. WestJet: 736/1,000 points
4. Frontier Airlines: 663/1,000 points