Naughty or Nice: Consumer Reports on the Airlines

Every year, the independent, non-profit Consumer Reports releases its Naughty & Nice list featuring a wide range of well-known companies that are praised or pilloried for policies that are consumer-friendly – or not. There’s always an airline or two on the list and here are the 2013 winners and losers:

Consumer Reports poll’s favorite airline (not Southwest)

Naughty – 2013

United Airlines: This legacy carrier made the naughty list by virtue of its family boarding policy, which does most families no good at all. From United’s website: “Families with infants or with children who are under the age of 4 may board the aircraft when their group number is called.” In other words, no pre-boarding for you! However, the airline does offer this boarding tip, which, again, will be worthless for most families: “If you’re traveling with a companion and one of you has a higher boarding status, you both may board with the earlier group.”

Nice – 2013

Southwest Airlines: The popular Texas-based carried earned its place on the nice list because of the airline’s very special change fee policy: It doesn’t charge a change fee. We salute you, Southwest.

Past Naughty and Nice Winners and Losers

How did those two carriers do in past years, and what other name keeps turning up? Take a look:

Nice: Southwest Two free bags policy
Naughty: United $150 change fee*
Naughty: Spirit New carry-on bag fee
Nice: (no airlines)
Naughty: AirTran Seat selection fee
Naughty: Southwest Early boarding fee
Nice: (no airlines)
Naughty: Delta Fee to upgrade non-refundable ticket to refundable
Naughty: Spirit Raised its highest carry-on fee to $100

*Fee has since risen to $200


Published: November 27, 2013