The One Airline Travel Experts Never Fly—Here's Why

A glance at the best flight deal websites and apps suggests discounted fares are commonplace, but travel experts know that you can't always take airfare sales at face value. Many so-called budget carriers add fees when you proceed to the checkout, boosting the price of a basic fare with the addition of baggage costs and seat allocation. 

Tired of the lack of transparency, air travel website The Points Guy has released its first comprehensive rankings of U.S. airlines, Travel+Leisure reports. The team judged each airline in 10 categories, including airfare, bag and change fees, on-time arrivals, lost baggage, and even turbulence. 

Alaska Airlines took out the number one spot, thanks to an ongoing merger with Virgin America, which will see a bigger combined route network. Spirit was named the worst U.S. airline, with high baggage and change fees and low-scoring customer experience.

Save time and money by following their ranking of the best and worst airlines in America:

  1. Alaska Airlines was awarded the best U.S. airline, thanks to an ongoing merger that will improve its route network.
  2. United Airlines performed strongly across a broad range of categories.
  3. Virgin America received top scores in cabin comfort and not losing baggage.
  4. JetBlue Airways was named a strong budget airline, in spite of new fees. 
  5. American Airlines ranked above Delta but bellow United. 
  6. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline that still offers free checked baggage on domestic flights. 
  7. Delta Airlines was the only major carrier to offer "basic economy" fares when this data was reviewed, so its ranking is likely to change next year when its key competitors follow suit.
  8. Hawaiian was ranked poorly thanks to high airfares and a limited network. 
  9. Frontier ranked in the bottom half of every classification except price. 
  10. Spirit was named the worst airline in Amerca. The Points Guy said the carrier "needs to focus on vastly improving its customer experience if it wants to have any hope of bettering its reputation."

Do you agree with this airline ranking? Tell us which carrier you turn to for the best travel experience.