WalletHub releases study of the Best Airlines for 2019

WalletHub releases study of the Best Airlines for 2019
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WalletHub releases study of the Best Airlines for 2019

Traveling by plane costs an average of $363 per trip. And choosing the wrong airline has the potential to take even more from us. For instance, 10 animals died during air transportation in 2018, and four major U.S. airlines had at least one pet fatality.

While critical to consider, such factors often fly under the radar due to our focus on price. But finding the cheapest airfare is now quite easy for anyone with an internet connection. So this report examines those other, overlooked aspects of air travel to help consumers make more-informed decisions.

WalletHub compared the 9 largest U.S. airlines, plus three regional carriers, across 15 important metrics. They range from cancellation and delay rates to baggage mishaps and in-flight comfort. We also considered costs in relation to in-flight amenities for the sake of fairness. For example, it wouldn’t be right to penalize an airline that charges for drinks if its tickets are far cheaper than those from an airline with free in-flight refreshments.

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2019’s Best Airlines

Below, you can see where each major airline ranks, based on overall WalletHub Score.

Airline WalletHub Score
Alaska Airlines 63.52
Delta Air Lines 59.69
SkyWest Airlines 56.73
Spirit Airlines 52.9
ExpressJet Airlines 50.96
Hawaiian Airlines 48.74
United Airlines 45.86
JetBlue Airways 44.99
Southwest Airlines 38.97
American Airlines 38.42
Envoy Air 36.24
Frontier Airlines 30.42

Key Findings

Most Reliable Airline: Delta Air Lines has the lowest rate of cancelations, delays, mishandled luggage and denied boardings.

WalletHub Reliability Score

Airline 2016 2017 2018 2019
Delta Air Lines 26.35 25.65 25.05 27.61
Hawaiian Airlines 22.14 25.49 21.62 22.81
United Airlines 13.62 20.3 24.02 22.47
Spirit Airlines 14.78 19.81 18.85 21.44
Alaska Airlines 24.13 28.48 23.98 20.33
SkyWest Airlines 13.28 20.88 19.6 17.45
JetBlue Airways 18.03 17.46 15.61 14.97
Southwest Airlines 13.52 15.07 15.74 13.63
American Airlines 16.41 16.78 19.79 13.24
ExpressJet Airlines 10.72 14 16.68 10.84
Envoy Air NaN NaN NaN 7.19
Frontier Airlines 15.1 14.46 18.04 3.65

Most Comfortable Airline: JetBlue leads the pack in terms of in-flight experience, offering free amenities such as Wi-Fi, extra legroom, and complimentary snacks and beverages.

WalletHub Comfort Score

Airline 2016 2017 2018 2019
JetBlue Airways 5 5 5 5
United Airlines 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.63
Southwest Airlines 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.63
Alaska Airlines 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.63
Delta Air Lines 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.63
American Airlines 4 4.5 4.63 4.5
Hawaiian Airlines 2 2 4 4
Spirit Airlines NaN NaN NaN 0.5
Frontier Airlines 0 0 0 0
* The regional carriers SkyWest, ExpressJet and Envoy are not represented in this chart because they serve other major airlines, which may dictate what amenities are provided.

Cheapest Airline: Frontier and Spirit are the best airlines for budget flyers.

Airline 2016 2017 2018 2019
Frontier Airlines $8.69 $6.19 $5.41 $4.9
Spirit Airlines $6.31 $5.15 $5.11 $5.13
ExpressJet Airlines $7.32 $7.85 $8.02 $9.2
SkyWest Airlines $9.35 $9.35 $9.85 $9.77
Alaska Airlines $11.18 $10.53 $10.55 $10.96
JetBlue Airways $12.13 $11.32 $11.2 $11.31
United Airlines $12.51 $11.65 $11.69 $11.96
Southwest Airlines $13.34 $12.64 $12.47 $12.25
Hawaiian Airlines $11.86 $11.89 $13.09 $12.36
American Airlines $12.65 $11.85 $12.2 $12.62
Delta Air Lines $13.2 $12.42 $12.37 $12.91
Envoy Air NaN NaN NaN $14.8
*Reflects passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM), obtained by dividing passenger revenue by the product of the number of available seats and the number of miles flown.

Most Pet-Friendly: Two airlines tied for being most pet-friendly, ExpressJet and Envoy, with no incidents.

WalletHub Pet-Friendly Score

Airline 2017 2018 2019
ExpressJet Airlines 4.56 5 5
Envoy Air NaN NaN 5
Alaska Airlines 4.72 4.42 4.94
SkyWest Airlines 4.27 5 4.76
American Airlines 4.3 3.07 4.61
United Airlines 3.16 0 4.11
Delta Air Lines 3.84 3.84 3.85
Hawaiian Airlines 0 5 0
*Four major airlines do not transport animals: Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, and Spirit.

Most Satisfactory Airline: Southwest Airlines and ExpressJet Airlines had the industry’s lowest consumer-complaint rate in 2018.

 

Airline 2016 2017 2018 2019
ExpressJet Airlines 0.62 0.51 0.73 0.36
Southwest Airlines 0.52 0.47 0.47 0.36
SkyWest Airlines 0.65 0.49 0.53 0.43
Alaska Airlines 0.5 0.5 0.57 0.57
Delta Air Lines 0.74 0.68 0.92 0.65
Envoy Air NaN NaN NaN 0.84
JetBlue Airways 0.86 0.75 1.14 0.99
Hawaiian Airlines 1.06 1.16 0.95 1.1
United Airlines 2.85 2.27 1.89 1.28
American Airlines 3.36 2.49 1.96 1.38
Spirit Airlines 11.73 6.74 5.59 2.83
Frontier Airlines 7.86 5.94 2.78 4.02

Safest Airline: Alaska Airlines was the safest in 2018. The safety runner-up is Spirit Airlines.

WalletHub Safety Score
Airline WalletHub Score
Alaska Airlines 19.86
Spirit Airlines 18.48
SkyWest Airlines 16.99
Hawaiian Airlines 16.34
Envoy Air 16.17
ExpressJet Airlines 15.37
Frontier Airlines 15.25
JetBlue Airways 14.53
American Airlines 14.15
Delta Air Lines 13.25
United Airlines 10.76
Southwest Airlines 5.83

(1) Regional airlines that serve other major airlines. There are more regional carriers serving the national airlines, but these are the only ones required to report to the DOT and that have at least 1 percent of total domestic scheduled-service passenger revenues.
(2) As a regional airline, ExpressJet does not control baggage handling or bookings. These are handled by the main airline served.
(3) Depending on the major airline served, flights from this airline may or may not provide the service. Please see Methodology for scoring.
(4) There may be discrepancies caused by variations in how airlines code the delay data that they report to the DOT.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.

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