Delta won best airline in the US for 2014 – it had the fewest flight cancellations, lost the least amount of luggage, and gained the most points for on-time arrivals.
Delta Air Lines, which trailed in sixth place in 2013, jumped to top spot this year as the overall leader. It also got top marks for the most improved customer service.
Top airlines for overall performance:
- Virgin America
- Southwest (including AirTran)
- American (Including US Airways)
Alaska Airlines came first for on-time arrivals, which for a passenger carrier in the US’ most northern state with severe winter conditions is quite an achievement. Many Alaska Airlines destinations, however, include Cancun, Hawaii, Las Vegas and California, where the climate does not tend to be an issue.
Most on-time arrivals:
- Alaska: 89.67% on time
- Delta: 84.41% on time
- American: 79.10% on time (American 76.78%, US Airways 82.11%)
- JetBlue: 77.32% on time
- United: 76.39% on time
- Frontier: 73.42% on time
- Southwest: 72.68% on time (Southwest 71.82%, AirTran 83.86%)
Overbooking league table
JetBlu won top spot for the fewest number of overbookings, i.e. it bumped fewer passengers from its flights this year than any other airline. But it had the highest number of cancellations.
Headquartered at John F. Kennedy International airport in New York City, JetBlu had to deal with one of the worst winters on record.
Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta, Georgia, flies more than 165 million passengers annually. It operates over 4,900 daily flights. The company employs about 77,000 workers worldwide.
Mishandling luggage (losing bags)
If you want to fly without losing your luggage, go with Virgin America. According to George Hobica, founder and president of Airfarewatchdog, which publishes the US airlines league tables each year, most of Virgin America’s flight’s are non-stop (without connections), which significantly reduces the risk of lost luggage.
Fewest lost bags (based on DOT reported mishandled baggage reports per 1k passengers):
- 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: 3.37 mishandled (American 3.74, US Airways 3.72)
- Southwest: 3.89 mishandled (Southwest 3.83, AirTrain 4.91)
Southwest Airlines, just about the only carrier that does not charge for the first two bags, deals with the most volume, which may partly explain why it came eighth in the table.
“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.”
Fewest canceled flights:
- Delta: 0.11% canceled
- Alaska: 0.13% canceled
- Virgin America: 0.18% canceled
- Frontier: 0.63% canceled
- Southwest: 0.71% canceled (AirTran 0.22%, Southwest 0.75%)
- United: 1.31% canceled
- American: 1.76% canceled (American 2.33%, US Airways 1.01%).