The Report Is In: The Best (and Worst) Airlines in the Country

by Daniel Barna

For the fourth year in row, the top airline in the United States is Virgin America. This, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating report, which listed JetBlue second and Delta third.

The news should come as no surprise to anyone who flies on the regular, as airlines continue to skimp on things like legroom, complimentary meals, and free checked luggage in an effort to compete with the glut of discount air carriers that have sprung up in recent years.

Even Virgin America dropped in three of the four categories considered for the annual report, which was compiled by Dr. Dean E. Headly of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent D. Bowen of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. But the airline Richard Branson built has a shimmering track record when it comes to mishandled baggage (or lack thereof), which was enough to top the list.

The other three criteria considered for the report were on-time arrivals, customer complaints, and denied boardings. The other 10 airlines included on the list from best to worst were Hawaiian, Alaska, Southwest, SkyWest, United, ExpressJet, American. Frontier, Envoy Air, and Spirit. 

Virgin America’s crowning as the nation’s best airline comes on the heels of news that it will be sold to Alaska Air for a reported $2.6 billion. And while Branson admitted that his hands were tied in the sale, he’s hopeful that despite the merger, Virgin will continue its reign as the best airline in America.

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Explore: Airlines, best, worst

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