Travel news site The Points Guy is out with a new study on the nation's highest- and lowest-ranking airlines, billed as the most comprehensive research of its kind on the matter.
Let's start with the bottom of the bunch, which scored dismal rankings in factors like airfare (weighted 25 percent of the total score), route networks (15 percent), bag and change fees (10 percent), cabin comfort (10 percent), customer satisfaction (10 percent), frequent flyer programs (10 percent), on-time arrivals (10 percent), lost baggage (five percent), domestic lounges (three percent) and involuntary bumps (two percent).
The proudly no-frills airline took last-place rankings for cabin comfort, customer satisfaction, frequent flyer perks, and on-time arrivals — plus it has zero lounges. Per it's whole M.O., though, it did earn a top score for cheap fares. Even still, Spirit didn’t place higher than fifth in any other category.
Coming in second to worst was Frontier, which ranked in the bottom half of every field except airfare, where it’s second best. Yes, that pattern is no coincidence: People love cheap airfare, and also love to hate the compromises they make to get it.
Moving to the top of the list now, Alaska beat out the pack as the best airline according to the criteria. It earned top honors in the frequent-flyer program category and second place in customer satisfaction and on-time arrivals. Its main drawback, according to the research, is a ho-hum network of routes — but that should get better after a merger with Virgin America.
United came in second overall, with comfortable cabins and abundance lounges. Virgin America placed third overall, topping the list for cabin comfort. Plus, it loses the fewest bags per passenger of any airline on this list.
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