Let’s overview some statistics provided by the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA
- 16,405,000 flights are handled by the FAA yearly
- 45,000 average daily flights handled by the FAA
- 10,000,000+ scheduled passenger flights yearly
- 24,100,000 square miles of oceanic airspace
- 5,300,000 square miles of the United States Domestic airspace
- 19,633 US Airports, 5,082 Public Airports, 14,551 Private Airports
- 2,900,000 passengers fly every day in and out of the US airports.
Although flying is a very safe and convenient way to travel across the US, airlines don’t have a great reputation. Mostly, the industry suffers because of a couple of airlines that focus too much on the business side of things and forget about the quality of the service they provide. So, what are the best airlines to fly in the US? It can be tricky to determine this, but we are ready to help you with this US airline ranking.
There are dozens of different airlines in this country, but not all of them are big enough to be considered worthy to be listed among the top airlines in the United States. So, we need to narrow our search down. The Department of Transportation states that there are 17 air carriers that earn more than $1 billion in a fiscal year. Only 10 of them are mainline passenger airlines. These 10 companies are going to be the main contenders of our ranking of airlines in the US.
Criteria for Choosing the Best and Worst United States Airlines
Before we present the list of the best and worst US airlines in 2021, we need to figure out the parameters we’re going to use and their importance for the ranking each airline gets.
1. Air Safety
Although the safety of an airline usually doesn’t impact whether the passenger uses it, it is still an important criterion to consider. Most major US airlines haven’t had any accidents in decades. Still, we will knock the points off our rating if there is even the slightest possibility of a mishap.
2. Air Tickes Price
This is one of the major criteria an average customer considers before buying a ticket. This means that it must have a considerable impact on the best airlines in the US rating. However, this parameter is difficult to compare, as not all airlines have similar flights to analyze. Usually, in similar ratings, experts compare how much each client pays for a mile of the way. Another thing to consider is extra fees (for baggage, changing the name or the flight, etc.).
The popularity of any business depends on how convenient it is. For airlines, this convenience is determined by the comfort of the plane cabin and whether the aircraft arrives on time. The cabin comfort consists of many subcriteria, like the size of the seats and space between them, the quality of the service, etc.
Most companies offer their loyal customers additional discounts. Such loyalty programs and other extra bonuses that airlines provide as a part of their marketing campaign is what we take into account in our evaluation as well.
This criterion is basically an assessment of how many complaints passengers have about the airline. The most common complaints about any airline are related to the lost baggage. However, there are more and more negative reviews connected with ticket overselling and how the staff handles it.
Additional amenities and attention to detail were also considered when we were making the lineup of the best and worst airlines in the United States. As we all know, the devil is in the details. Wi-Fi available onboard, the quality and price of food, snacks, and beverages, and the entertainment you get during your flight can make or break the whole journey.
The Best US Airlines
1. Alaska Airlines
Pros: great prices, friendly service, comfortable seats, one of the best loyalty programs for regular customers.
We start our list with Alaska Airlines – one of the most popular and praised airlines in the US, especially if you choose flying first-class. And that’s no wonder – it has some of the lowest prices for a mile of travel, and the rates of customer satisfaction are among the highest in the industry.
People praise the comfort of their seats, especially with premium seating, where you can stretch out in spacious, custom-designed seats, enjoy hot and tasty food, and low extra fares. All in all, even if you wanted to find something to be mad about after flying this airline, you wouldn’t be able to.
2. Delta AirLines
Pros: huge network size, low prices, minimum delays and lost baggage cases, high-quality food, highly comfortable seats
Cons: some planes are old
Delta Air Lines is one of the biggest US air carriers. But it’s not what makes it one of the best, though. What does is the relatively low ticket prices and the quality of the service you get for that price. Delta knows how to keep their customers satisfied and employees well-mannered and welcoming.
Over the past few years, the airline has made some improvements in the luggage-checking and delay-reducing departments. However, what they haven’t improved yet are the planes on some of the routes. Well, at the end of the day, no company is without a flaw.
3. Southwest Airlines
Pros: fair additional fares policy, great customer experience, big coverage
Cons: safety concerns
Southwest Airlines has lots of admirers, mainly thanks to their transparent and honest fair policy with benefits for the elderly. Plus, both the comfort of the cabins and the courtesy of the staff make it one of the best-rated airlines in the US.
Why isn’t it higher on our list then? The thing is that Southwest Airlines is the only company that had an accident with a human casualty in the last decade. It actually was the first casualty the airline had in the last 49 years. No matter what, this means that this company cannot be considered one of the safest airlines in the United States.
4. Allegiant Air
Pros: new comfortable planes, direct flights, friendly crews
Cons: higher rate of delays, not IATA-approved
Allegiant has passed the threshold to become a major airline relatively recently. There is little official information on it, but judging from what data we have found and analyzed, it definitely deserves its place on the list of the best airlines in US 2018. Many reviewers have favorably noted the use of new planes and friendly customer service the company provides for a fair price.
There are some problems Allegiant has to solve, though. For example, their flights have a considerably higher frequency of technical delays and cancellations.
5. United Airlines
Pros: rare delays and baggage losses, complaints are taken into consideration
Cons: higher fares, controversy
Even if you don’t fly very often, you’ve probably heard about the scandals surrounding this company. However, the controversy didn’t stop the company from being one of the best airlines in the US. United has actually received fewer complaints from customers this year than last year. You shouldn’t worry about being thrown off the plane, but be prepared to pay for your baggage, as the United fares are high enough.
The Worst US Airlines
Pros: continuously growing network, relatively cheap flights
Cons: frequent lost baggage complaints and delays
Frontier is starting off our list of the worst airlines. However, it’s more mediocre than bad. The only bothersome things are the delays and the frustrating customer experience, but the company seems to be improving in that regard.
4. American Airlines
Pros: the most expansive network
Cons: frequent delays and baggage losses, high auxiliary fares, low customer satisfaction
Another mediocre carrier, American Airlines isn’t that bad. They provide flights all over the US, and the price of one mile is relatively low. However, it is apparent that this airline doesn’t put their customers first which leads to a bunch of inconveniences like frequent delays, baggage getting lost, high extra fees, etc.
Pros: comfortable cabins, adequate fees
Cons: lots of headaches, small network size, relatively high ticket prices
JetBlue is not a huge airline, but it isn’t a low-fare one either. The price for a mile is relatively high, but you don’t have to pay as much for baggage and changing the details on the ticket. Overall, the flight is accommodating, but the frequency of baggage losses and flight delays has grown considerably in the past year or so.
2. Hawaiian Airlines
Pros: direct flights, great food, nice service
Cons: high ticket prices, small coverage
Another company, Hawaiian Airlines, is far from being the worst. However, the ticket prices are one of the most important criteria that determine the airlines’ popularity, which is why it definitely isn’t among the best ones. The small number of routes doesn’t play out well for the company either. On the other hand, most customers are satisfied with what they get, as the service and the food they receive for are on par with their expectations.
Pros: extremely rare baggage losses, low ticket prices
Cons: lots of hidden charges, lack of comfort, delays, security concerns
Spirit is the worst airline both according to expert reviews and the customers. It offers low ticket prices, but there are too many additional fees. Another reason not to like it is the low quality of everything, from the seats to the customer service. The airline is also not approved by the International Air Transport Association, which is troubling.
This is it for our list of the best and the worst airlines in the US. Take a look at the table below to see how we reached our conclusions in more detail.
|Delta Air Lines||10||9||7||8||10||10|
Methodology and Resources
In order to settle on the best and worst airlines in USA, we had to mark each of the parameters we mentioned earlier from 1 to 10. Then, we added the weight to each parameter, as some of them are more important than others. Not going into much detail, we considered the security and the price to be the most important indicators, convenience and headaches had a little less weight for the ranking, and the extras and amenities had the least impact.
In order to rank the companies, we referred to ThePointsGuy article, reports by federal agencies (like DOT and FAA) and private companies (like OAG, Routehappy, and AirlineRatings). We’ve also taken a close look at reviews written by regular customers on review aggregating websites.
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