For anyone planning an air trip across the U.S., it’s important to know the best airlines for reliability, cost, loyalty as well as the overall experience. The Points Guy has released its sixth annual Best Airlines Report, naming Delta Airlines in first place (for the fourth year in a row).
This is a Top Ten is for domestic routes in the U.S. and does not relate to international routes that these airlines might operate—the 2022 best global airline of the year was measured differently and recently awarded to Qatar Airways.
For this report, airlines in the U.S. were ranked from best to worst according to criteria such as customer satisfaction, cabin comfort, on-time records, lost luggage data and lounge quality. The rankings also reflect “the different aspects of a customer’s journey—from ticketing through baggage delivery and even redeeming rewards for future trips.”
The top ten airlines in the U.S. on domestic routes are:
- Delta Air Lines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- American Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Frontier Airlines
- Allegiant Air
- Spirit Airlines
Brian Kelly, Founder of The Points Guy said, “as travel restrictions were lifted around the world and more people returned to traveling, airlines faced a mountain of challenges this year from labor shortages to unfortunate delays making it a difficult year for air travel.”
The idea is that this list for best U.S. airline should provide a guide to help travelers plan their next trip, either domestically, or to help cross the U.S. for those travelers arriving from overseas.
There were some useful takeaways from the Top Ten:
- There were several reasons as to why Delta Air Lines won the top spot but mostly because of its extensive lounges and customer satisfaction—”Delta saw the fewest customer complaints this year with just 1.25 complaints for every 100,000 passengers. They also only bumped two passengers out of more than 127 million Delta flyers in 2021, which was impressive given the state of the airline industry overall.”
- Hawaiian Airlines came top in reliability for the second year running. It has the lowest percentage of delays and cancellations—”over 90% of Hawaiian’s flights arrived on time (within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time), and just 264 of the airline’s 60,000+ flights were canceled.”
- Southwest wins for affordable fares—”while Southwest doesn’t serve as many destinations as some other U.S. airlines, its airfares were notably more affordable than the three legacy airlines (American, Delta, United)—and Southwest charged the fewest ancillary fees for checked bags and ticket changes or cancellations.”
- United came out top for frequent flyers—”United received the highest score thanks to a broad portfolio of co-branded credit cards plus the highest number of airline partners for earning and redeeming MileagePlus miles.”
Incidentally, Delta does not receive the highest rankings when the amount of legroom is taken into consideration (or seat pitch, as is customarily measured)—the top spot went to JetBlue (7th in The Points Guy’s list) for the best airlines for legroom in 2022.
Southwest, however, scored highly in terms of legroom and is at second place in The Points Guy’s list for best U.S. airline.