According to the 2016 edition of the Airline Quality Rating report, the best airline in the U.S. is Virgin America.
Take a bow, Virgin but hurry. The Virgin America brand may soon disappear thanks to its recently-announced acquisition by Alaska Airlines.
Best and Worst Airlines in the U.S.
In case you’re wondering, the AQR report is no popularity contest; Drs. Brent Bowen and Dean Headley utilize a wide variety of sources and statistics to prove what each airline accomplished or failed at. The good news is, the overall industry score “improved in each category” except for one – consumer gripes. Aside: did FareCompare’s post on How to File a Complaint make the crucial difference?
In any event, airlines were scored in other categories including on-time flights, bumped passengers (denied boardings), mishandled baggage and so on.
Here are the final rankings, from best to worst:
1. Virgin America
12. Envoy Air
Note about Spirit: Its last place finish can be attributed in part to a “customer complaint rate of 11.73 complaints per 100,000 passengers [which] does not compare well to the industry average of 1.90 for all airlines rated. Overall, Spirit Airlines entered the AQR ratings with the worst AQR score (-3.18) of any airline rated this year.” Ouch. But heaven knows Spirit has plenty of fans and it continues to thrive.