Best U.S. Airlines: 2014 Edition

Rachael Prescott, August 07, 2014
Fares from Washington DC:

    This is the third year that the Airfarewatchdog team has put U.S. airlines head-to-head in search of the Best U.S. Airline. You can see last year’s rankings here, and the ones from 2012 here. As usual, we ranked the airlines based on their performance in five key areas—canceled flights, on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, denied boardings, and customer satisfaction—to give you 2014’s best of the best.

    As you can see from our carefully laid-out charts below, there were some interesting findings this year. As far as we’re concerned, Delta is this year’s unsung hero. For the past two years, Delta has been stuck on the wrong side of the rankings, but this year, the airline moved from sixth up to the top spot! Delta ranks higher this year in canceled flights, on-time arrivals, and mishandled bags, but its most-improved area is customer service. The other legacy carriers—US Airways, American, and United—maintain their usual spots at the bottom. When it comes to the airlines involved in major mergers—Southwest with AirTran and American with US Airways—business is as usual. JetBlue continues to be a leader in customer service but is falling behind in a few other areas. Without further ado, we bring you the Best U.S. Airlines of 2014!

    Top Airlines for Overall Performance*
    Delta
    1 st Place
    Virgin America 
    2 nd Place
    Alaska
    3 rd Place
    JetBlue
    4 th Place
    Frontier
    5 th Place
    Southwest
    Southwest
    AirTran
    6 th Place
    American
    American
    US Airways
    7 th Place
    United
    8 th Place
    *Rankings determined by combining the airlines’ scores in all categories

    Individual Categories
    Fewest Canceled Flights*
    Delta 
    0.11% Canceled
    Alaska
    0.13% Canceled
    Virgin America
    0.18% Canceled
    Frontier
    0.63% Canceled
    Southwest
    Southwest
    AirTran
    0.71% Canceled
    0.75% Canceled
    0.22% Canceled
    United
    1.31% Canceled
    American
    American
    US Airways
    1.76% Canceled
    2.33% Canceled
    1.01% Canceled
    JetBlue
    2.42% Canceled
    *Based on Department of Transportation (DOT) report on May 2014 flight cancellations at all reportable airports

    On-Time Arrivals*
    Alaska
    89.67% On-Time
    Delta
    84.41% On-Time
    Virgin America
    81.77% On-Time
    American
    American
    US Airways
    79.10% On-Time
    76.78% On-Time
    82.11% On-Time
    JetBlue
    77.32% On-Time
    United
    76.39% On-Time
    Frontier
    73.42% On-Time
    Southwest
    Southwest
    AirTran
    72.68% On-Time
    71.82% On-Time
    83.86% On-Time
    *Based on DOT report on May 2014 on-time arrivals at all reportable airports

    Fewest Mishandled Bags*
    Virgin America 
    1.04 Mishandled
    Frontier
    1.65 Mishandled
    JetBlue
    1.79 Mishandled
    Delta
    1.93 Mishandled
    Alaska
    2.42 Mishandled
    United
    3.37 Mishandled
    American
    American
    US Airways
    3.73 Mishandled
    3.74 Mishandled
    3.72 Mishandled
    Southwest
    Southwest
    AirTran
    3.89 Mishandled
    3.83 Mishandled
    4.91 Mishandled
    *Based on DOT report on May 2014 mishandled baggage reports per 1K passengers

     Amount of Denied Boardings* 
    JetBlue
    3.58 Denied
    Virgin America
    17.13 Denied
    Alaska
    56.56 Denied
    American
    American
    US Airways
    73.58 Denied
    68.63 Denied
    80.06 Denied
    Delta
    74.06 Denied
    Frontier
    119.07 Denied
    Southwest
    Southwest
    AirTran
    135.96 Denied
    120.45 Denied
    293.37 Denied
    United
    245.61 Denied
    *Based on DOT report on January to March 2014 involuntary denied boardings per 1MM passengers

     Customer Satisfaction Score* 
    JetBlue
    79
    Southwest
    Southwest
    AirTran
    74
    78
    70
    Delta
    71
    Alaska
    70 (tie)
    Frontier
    70 (tie)
    Virgin America
    70 (tie)
    American
    American
    US Airways
    66
    66
    66
    United
    60
    *Based on 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index scores
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