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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