Alaska Airlines ranked highest and Spirit Airlines ranked lowest of the 10 major US-based airline carriers included in a new study conducted by ThePointsGuy.com, the travel resource said.
Whereas other best/worst airlines lists rely heavily on consumer surveys and a narrow set of criteria, ThePointsGuy.com incorporated 10 objective, wide-ranging factors (weighting in parentheses): airfare (25%), route networks (15%), bag/change fees (10%), cabin comfort (10%), customer satisfaction (10%), frequent flyer programs (10%), on-time arrivals (10%), lost baggage (5%), domestic lounges (3%), and involuntary bumps (2%).
Alaska Airlines earned top honors in the frequent flyer program category and placed second in customer satisfaction and on-time arrivals. Its main drawback is a mediocre route network, but its ongoing merger with Virgin America should improve that situation.
United came in second overall thanks in large part to its comfortable cabins and an abundance of lounges; it rates second in both categories.
Virgin America placed third overall. On the plus side, Virgin topped the list for cabin comfort and it loses the fewest bags per passenger of any airline on this list. However, a limited route network (second-worst) and pricey bag/change fees (third-highest) kept Virgin from a higher ranking.
Spirit took the bottom spot on the list thanks to last-place rankings for cabin comfort, customer satisfaction, frequent flyer perks, and on-time arrivals, plus zero lounges. It earned a top score for cheap fares, but didn´t place higher than fifth in any other department.
Frontier, second-worst overall, is similar to Spirit. It ranks in the bottom half of every classification except airfare, where it´s second-best.
Sources were Airline websites, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, on-time arrivals, PlaneStats.com, Routehappy, and US Department of Transportation.
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