Simply, some airlines are better than others for reliability, comfort and customer service, availability of lounges, how easy it is to book, change or cancel a flight, even how friendly it is to family seating and pets.
Delta is the best airline to fly in the United States, followed by Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines.
That’s according to a study conducted by AirAdvisor, which analyzed nine different categories, including reliability, comfort, safety, reviews, and price.
It’s the second time in 2023 Delta has won a best in class award – the other was from the annual TPG Best Airlines Report.
AirAdvisor help passengers get money back from cancelled or delayed flights.
They collected data from each individual airline, the US Department of Transportation, the International Air Transport Association, as well as a number of review sites, then ranked each airline from 1-10 in each of the nine categories and totaled them together to create an overall.
So here are the results – in order from #1 to #10.
#1 – Delta Airlines – Total score of 77.78
With a high score of 77.8, Delta Airlines has the capacity to carry over 200 million passengers annually.
Named for the delta between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, Delta Airlines has been operating in the US since 1928.
With the number of passengers that fly with Delta every year, it’s a good thing that it scores highest in categories like comfort and reliability – two of the most important factors in most travelers’ opinions.
#2 – Hawaiian Airlines – Total score of 72.2
Earning a score of 72.2, Hawaiian Airlines really holds its own when it comes to the best airlines in the US.
As the Aloha state’s longest-operating and largest airline, Hawaiian flies up to 10 million passengers per year, significantly less than Delta.
What they lack in volume, Hawaiian Airlines makes up for in consistency.
The airline rated well above average in most categories, meaning that travelers are likely to get a very positive overall experience.
#3 – United Airlines – Total score of 71.1
United Airlines earned a very respectable position on the list – number 3. They are a solid performer in most categories and, unlike Hawaiian, score very high for professional reviews.
United is also quite family and pet-friendly, which can be crucial to some travelers.
At its peak in 2019, United Airlines accommodated over 160 million passengers, making it the fourth-largest airline in the country.
In all, with a score of 71.1 points, United is a solid choice for travelers.
#4 – Alaska Airlines – Total score of 67.8
Alaska Airlines and American Airlines round out the top 4th and 5th place with a score of 67.8.
Considered more of a mid-size airline compared to giants like United, American, and Delta, Alaska Airlines still jets over 40 million passengers annually to more than 100 domestic destinations as well as cities in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Canada.
Ranking lower for pets and comfort, Alaska Airlines’ strengths include high marks in both customer and professional reviews in addition to family-friendly travel.
Otherwise, it’s steadily in the middle of the pack.
#5 – American Airlines – Total score of 67.8
When an airline is consistently the largest carrier of passengers in the US, its results can go either way.
More flights and more customers mean more opportunities for slip-ups, but American Airlines remains a dependable choice despite this.
American transports between 200 and 215 million travelers annually and is another good option if traveling with the family or a pet.
Though ranking lower in customer reputation and price, American Airlines scores high for comfort, both on the planes themselves and in their airport lounges.
#6 – JetBlue Airways – Total score of 53.3
Resting right in the middle of the list, JetBlue is still a fairly good choice for travelers. Most of jetBlue’s scores are average, but one area where it stands out is comfort, ranking just behind Delta.
JetBlue has an overall score of 53.3 and is the highest-ranking budget air carrier in the US.
The airline offers over 100 destinations focusing on Canada, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, and domestic US cities.
In 2022, jetBlue welcomed nearly 40 million passengers who certainly found the airline comfortable (it has the largest seats of any US-based carrier), and it’s great for families.
But it should be noted that jetBlue is among the worst US airlines for reliability.
#7 – Southwest Airlines – Total score of 52.8
Southwest Airlines is technically classed as a budget carrier, so it’s not all that shocking that the low-cost US airlines tend to be further down the list.
However, it receives the lowest score possible for affordability. The takeaway with Southwest is that it does very well in the customer reputation category.
With Southwest, travelers get more perks than they might otherwise receive from a typical low-cost airline.
This includes things like in-flight entertainment, free refreshments, and complimentary checked bags, much to the delight of the over 150 million people who fly with them annually.
#8 – Allegiant Air – Total score of 47.2
Routinely flying around 15 million annual passengers, Allegiant Air takes the number 8 spot, earning a total score of a somewhat respectable score of 47.2.
Despite its lack of comfort, negative reviews, and unreliability, the positives with Allegiant are its fair price point and its willingness to welcome pets onboard.
#9 – Spirit Airlines – Total score of 40.6
One of the best things about Spirit Airlines is that it’s not technically the worst in the country.
Its low score doesn’t necessarily deter the nearly 40 million people who fly Spirit every year, but they do have something to say about it.
Ranking below average in customer reputation score and reviews, the highest score that Spirit Airlines receives is in affordability.
#10 – Frontier Airlines – Total score of 30.6
Someone has to be the worst, right? That “honor” goes to no-frills carrier Frontier Airlines.
Unsurprisingly many of the airlines’ scores are ultra-low.
Top 10 Airlines Table:
|Ranking||Airline||Most Reliable||Most Comfortable||Safest Airline||Cheapest Airline||Customer reputation score||Air Lounges reviews||Professional reviews||Family||Pets||Consolidated score|
Criteria and Methodology:
AirAdvisor looked at 9 different categories to come up with the overall score.
Reliability – Data was collected from the US Department of Transportation for 2022-2023, specifically percentages for mishandled bags, passengers denied boarding, delayed, canceled, and diverted flights.
Comfort – Data for this section was collected from each airline and scored as a yes or no. The factors considered were seat comfort, Wi-Fi availability, access to comfort items, in-flight entertainment systems, and complimentary snacks and drinks (non-alcoholic).
Safety – Data was collected from the International Air Transportation Association and scored as either yes or no for a safety incident from 2022.
Price – Data was collected from each individual airline and calculated by dividing each airline’s reported passenger revenue by available seat miles for the year 2022.
Customer Reputation – Data was collected from nine different review sites, such as TripAdvisor, Kayak, Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Trust Pilot, Airlinequality.com, and Influenster.com. 893,236 reviews were consolidated to get the overall score for this variable.
Airline Lounges – Data was collected by searching each airline to see whether or not they had a branded lounge and then the average customer review score for that same airport lounge.
Professional Reviews – The professional reviews component was calculated based on various published top lists for the airline industry, such as the Best Airlines in North America in 2023, Best Airline Staff in 2023, World’s Top 100 Airlines in 2022 list, and the Best Low-Cost Airlines in North America 2022 rating.
Family Travel – Searching each individual airline, this data was collected by checking whether the airline offers a family seating policy, free stroller check-in, a kids’ meal (on request), an entertainment system, and free seat selection for children under 13.
Traveling with Pets – This data was collected from each airline and includes whether you can take your pet into the cabin and airport lounge and whether the airline permits pets in the cargo hold.
AirAdvisor is a company, which helps passengers receive compensation for canceled or delayed flights.
US Department of Transportation, International Air Transportation Association, Trip Advisor, Kayak, Consumer Affairs, Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Trust Pilot, Airline Equality, Influenster, Wikipedia, Seat Maestro, Skift, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, jetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Air, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter currently serves as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA) and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Assn. (NATJA).
Contact me at email@example.com.
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter