The Best Airlines in the US
When choosing an airline, several vital considerations include cabin features, customer service quality, lounge access, and family travel policies.
After an eventful year of extreme weather, flight cancellations, and staff shortages, The Wall Street Journal released its annual airline rankings. Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines emerged as top US carriers.
1. Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines is one of the world’s largest airlines. Offering flight services to over 275 destinations worldwide and partnering with international airlines for those it doesn’t cover, Delta is dedicated to simplifying booking processes and customer experiences for its passengers – their mobile app makes checking in, selecting seats, and making changes on the go simple! Known for their reliability and on-time performance, Delta is an excellent choice for anyone hoping to travel directly to a specific location without worrying about delays or cancellations.
Atlanta-based airline company Delta Air Lines was founded as Huff Daland Dusters in 1925 as one of the first aerial crop-dusting services worldwide. Their early success was built upon sound management and profitability; during the Depression, they expanded globally by acquiring other airlines as they broadened their operations and business sense.
For global expansion, American expanded by diversifying by purchasing European routes from Pan Am in 1991 and entering a codeshare partnership with British Airways in 1995 – both move increased customer reach while investing in its fleet and technology to stay competitive.
As with any large airline, Delta faces various challenges threatening its business. For example, taxes and regulations vary across nations, leading to high operating costs and attrition rates that result in additional training expenses. Its most significant weakness lies in its reliance on North American markets, which could limit growth potential.
2. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines stands out as an award-winning airline when it comes to customer satisfaction, winning awards from SmarterTravel, Points Guy, and FlyerTalk this year as one of the best U.S. carriers and boasting one of the industry’s best frequent-flier programs – carrying some of the cheapest basic fares, featuring carry-on luggage included and offering miles earning opportunities on any food purchased.
Alaska Airlines’ only drawback is being limited to the West Coast, but loyal customers still praise its friendly flight attendants and proactive customer service representatives on social media. Furthermore, unlike other significant airlines, Alaska allows its passengers to maintain their loyalty even during leaner years by grandfathering them back in as normal status – making the experience exceptional!
Alaska offers two premium class fares that go above and beyond its basic fare options, such as free seat selection and entertainment onboard its A320s, with USB and seat-back power outlets to recharge devices, satellite Wi-Fi (available for purchase), texting during flights for free as well as its app that lets passengers track both their flight and gate location.
Alaska Air is doing well financially but not growing at the same pace as its larger domestic competitors; Hawaiian and JetBlue airlines compete for connecting traffic from Hawaii. Alaska, though, is expanding its route network through Virgin America’s acquisition and the introduction of new destinations in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, in addition to increasing transcontinental business travel by offering lie-flat beds on select long-haul routes.
3. Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines was established 67 years ago and today operates one of Hawaii’s premier air carriers, specializing in flights between its islands and transport between Hawaii and other US locations and international ones. Their fleet consists of 61 aircraft.
Despite its modest fleet, Southwest stands out from other major airlines with several distinct advantages that set it apart. Economy passengers flying on an A321 Neo aircraft have access to extra comfort seats that offer more excellent legroom than standard economy seats and offer extra legroom.
As well as extra comfort, Hawaiian Airlines offers an assortment of food and drink offerings on flights. First-class passengers receive a three-course meal during their flight. At the same time, those seated in the main cabin can enjoy snacks and beverages from Honolulu Cookie Company, such as their famous pineapple-shaped shortbread cookies. Even on inter-island flights where there may not be time for full meals, you can still expect some sweet treats and passion-orange-guava juice!
Hawaiian Airlines also offers a credit card to speed up your HawaiianMiles rewards faster. Membership of this credit card is free; however, certain restrictions apply, such as earning only one 50% discount off round-trip tickets from the continental United States to Hawaii for cardholders and travel companions combined. Furthermore, recently Hawaiian has experienced booking issues that have frustrated passengers when trying to change or redeem miles online due to Amadeus Altea system switch-over issues.
4. JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways is an outstanding airline for those seeking an enjoyable and unique travel experience. Boasting low fares, friendly service, and in-flight entertainment on every flight; complimentary WiFi; Mint business class on longer flights; and low pet fees and restrictions, this carrier provides travelers memorable journeys.
Since its founding before the millennium began, Southwest Airlines has long been known for its affordable fares and commitment to being an engaging carrier. They managed to weather 9/11 better than many airlines and have continued expanding since then, winning the Best Domestic Airline Award 2021.
While United is known for its on-time performance and baggage handling, it lags behind other airlines regarding baggage rebookings and handling fees. Furthermore, this airline charges higher fees and limits what types of animals its passengers can bring onto flights.
Delta does not provide an intercontinental network comparable to Delta, United, and American Airlines. However some destinations in Europe can be reached, but their reach is much more limited compared to what other airlines can provide. Furthermore, it has been accused of being bullied into getting gate space at busy airports by other carriers.
Delta Airlines is an excellent airline for planning a domestic or Caribbean journey. At the same time, it may not be suitable if traveling internationally or to major business hubs in North America, given that their primary hub is in New York-JFK.
5. Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines stands out as a cheap airline in the US, providing affordable or accessible flights. Established in 1994 and based out of Denver, Colorado, Frontier operates with a fleet of narrow-body aircraft emblazoned with their “spokesanimal” logo.
Frontier Airlines is an ultra-low-cost carrier, meaning that they do not provide amenities like in-flight entertainment or snacks on its flights to keep prices down for passengers. Frontier also often hosts sales and discounts that make flights extremely affordable.
Frontier Airlines’ baggage rules can be very stringent; any bags that exceed certain size limits will incur an extra charge, and no compensation may be offered if your bag goes missing or mishandled. Furthermore, Frontier has become known for experiencing numerous flight delays and cancellations, leaving some passengers angry on Tripadvisor.
Before flying with Frontier Airlines, it’s wise to thoroughly read their website before purchasing your ticket. Doing this lets you know exactly what to expect when booking, and no carry-on bags will be permitted, which could prove an inconvenience.
Frontier Airlines is an ideal option if you don’t mind paying extra for baggage and amenities such as snacks and beverages while being flexible about baggage restrictions and additional costs for snacks and drinks. But if these issues bother you, another airline might be better suited.