J.D. Power: Alaska and JetBlue are the Best Airlines

The folks behind the respected J.D. Power reports say Alaska Airlines is the best of the large carriers and JetBlue is the best of the discounters. Again.

What Makes an Airline a Winner

Alaska ranked first for the seventh time in a row while this was JetBlue’s 10th consecutive trip to the winner’s circle. All airlines were judged on seven factors, with most important first:  1. Costs and fees. 2. Flight services. 3. Boarding/deplaning/baggage. 4. Flight crew. 5. Aircraft. 6. Check-in. 7. Reservations.

Alaska, JetBlue: Why They Won, Why We Like Them

Here’s what the winners were especially good at, according to the 11,370 passengers who responded to this study.

Alaska: This airline scored well in all seven factors.

  • Why we like Alaska: If they don’t get your bag to the carousel within 20 minutes of parking the plane, you get a $25 voucher good toward future flights.

JetBlue: This airline was singled out for its nice planes and in-flight services.

  • Why we like JetBlue: Seatback screens at every seat and always cheerful flight attendants.

Where the Other Airlines Ranked

The top five among larger, legacy carriers with ranking (based on a 1,000 point scale):

  1. Alaska – 737
  2. Delta – 693
  3. American – 684
  4. Air Canada – 683
  5. United – 658

The top  five among the so-called low cost or discount carriers:

  1. JetBlue  – 789
  2. Southwest – 778
  3. WestJet – 734
  4. AirTran* – 706
  5. Frontier – 676

*Even though AirTran has merged with Southwest, the two carriers still have not merged operations/systems and so they are evaluated separately.

Where was Virgin America?

Don’t worry. The popular San Francisco-based airline – which just scored a big win by getting those gates at Dallas’ Love Field – has won plenty of other awards/high rankings but was not included in this study because as J.D. Power report director Richard Garlick told us, Virgin America did not meet some of the study criteria such as “carriers must serve a minimum of 40 locations in the United States or Canada.” At the moment, Virgin America only flies to 20+ (but watch that change in the future).

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Published: May 14, 2014