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The 10 Best U.S Airlines in 2021

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Which American airline is the best? With travel roaring back to life, many individuals are asking this topic. The annual North America Airline Satisfaction Study, which ranks the top U.S. airlines based on passenger satisfaction in eight metrics including aircraft, baggage, boarding, check-in; cost and fees, flight crew, in-flight services, and reservation, has just been released by J.D. Power, a global leader in consumer insights, data, and analytics.

Other significant information concerning the state of air travel in 2022 was given by J.D. Power’s study. The main conclusion: Consumer satisfaction has decreased by most standards. Given that higher fuel prices and increased demand are causing a 20 percent increase in average airfares, passengers are most irritated about price hikes for tickets. The food and beverage options annoy premium economy and first/business passengers as well; they want their complimentary drinks back most of all. On the other hand, the people travelling in economy or basic economy in the back of the plane were content. Their satisfaction ratings for meals and beverages increased by 7 points.

It’s been a wild ride for U.S. airlines over the last 18 months amid Covid-19-induced travel fears and restrictions, not to mention trouble with unruly passengers who refused to wear their masks. But with nearly 49% of the country fully vaccinated, travel is making a big comeback — even with the fast-spreading delta variant.

 

Best U.S Airlines in 2021

If you’re ready to travel, The Points Guy (TPG) has released its annual report on the best U.S. airlines for 2021.

To determine the list the website ranked each airline in four categories using data from the Department of Transportation. Those factors include reliability (including timeliness, cancellations and baggage); experience (cabin features, lounges and customer complaints); cost (including bag and change fees) and loyalty (frequent flyer usage and award availability).

For the third straight year in a row, TPG ranked Delta Air Lines No. 1, according to the report.

“The carrier wasn’t a standout in any single category — it was fifth for mishandled baggage and fourth for customer complaints submitted to the DOT, for example,” the report said. “However, Delta only hit the bottom spot in a single element (affordability), otherwise maintaining solid scores across the remaining data-backed criteria we analyzed. This consistency helped push it to the top spot.”

 

The 10 Best U.S Airlines in 2021

Here are the 10 best U.S. airlines, according to TPG’s report and their highest and lowest performing areas:

1. Delta Air Lines

  • Top-performing areas: involuntary bumps from flights, lounges
  • Lowest-performing areas: affordability

2. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines was named the best airline for economy/basic economy.

  • Top-performing areas: customer satisfaction, bag/change fees, award availability
  • Lowest-performing areas: lounges

(A Southwest spokesperson says it’s honored to make the list during one of the toughest years in the airline’s history and credits the Southwest employees for its success.)

3. United Airlines

  • Top-performing areas: route network, frequent flyer
  • Lowest-performing areas: affordability

4. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines came in second with a score of 876

  • Top-performing areas: lounges
  • Lowest-performing areas: bag/change fees

5. American Airlines

  • Top-performing areas: family, route network
  • Lowest-performing areas: baggage

 

Compare the outcomes this year to those from the previous year, when Delta Air Lines claimed the top spot, marking the airline’s first victory with J.D. Power since 1995. What helped Delta win the top rank the previous year? According to Taylor, Delta’s victory the previous year was largely the result of its “people” abilities and capacity to change with the Covid marketplace. “In the research’s 2022 study year, most airlines had ups and downs. The demand for leisure travel increased, resources were redeployed, and nearly every airline was impacted by labour concerns. In the report this year, Delta is one of the top three airlines for each seat class.

So where are we going with this? Will the situation with air travel improve or deteriorate? By the end of the summer, according to Taylor, airlines should be able to resolve their fleet, crew, and scheduling issues. But by then, it’s likely that the focus of the flying public will be on ticket prices. If demand continues along its current trajectory, fuel costs are anticipated to be a significant price impact.

 

6. JetBlue Airways

This year, JetBlue Airways was the big winner, ranking on top as the best airline in two areas: first/business and premium economy. JetBlue won the first/business segment with a score of 878. JetBlue Airways also ranked first, earning a customer satisfaction score of 851, which put it on top

  • Top-performing areas: cabin features, award availability
  • Lowest-performing areas: bag, change fees

7. Hawaiian Airlines

  • Top-performing areas: timeliness, involuntary bumps
  • Lowest-performing areas: customer satisfaction, route network

8. Spirit Airlines

  • Top-performing areas: cancellations, affordability
  • Lowest-performing areas: wheelchairs, scooters, bag/change fees

(A spokesperson for Spirit says it’s pleased to make the list and is “looking forward to climbing higher in the years to come.”

9. Frontier

  • Top-performing areas: cancellations, affordability
  • Lowest-performing areas: involuntary bumps, bag/change fees, award availability

10. Allegiant Airlines

  • Top-performing areas: Involuntary bumps, baggage, wheelchairs/scooters
  • Lowest-performing areas: timeliness, cancellations, family, frequent flyer

 

When contacted for comment on ranking weak spots, a spokesperson for Delta said the airline is putting customers first. A United spokesperson said the company is focused on continuing to improve customer experience. Allegiant, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue and American Airlines did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request to comment. A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines declined to comment.

To see the full list from J.D. Power, you can read more about the report here. Or read on for the lists of the best airlines in America.

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