Best and Worst of U.S. Airlines

Airlines

Share this infographic on your site!

Best and Worst U.S. Airlines

Here are the top 10 U.S. airlines (major carriers) for 2012 and 2013. The listing is based on AirfareWatchdog’s annual best U.S. airlines list, which in turn is based on US DoT/ BTS data (Jun 2012 and Jun 2013).

  • Rankings are from AirfareWatchdog, not the U.S. DoT (Department of Transportation) / BTS (Bureau of Transportation).
  • The biggest changes in ranking were for Frontier jumping from 5th place in 2012 to 1st place in 2013, and for AirTran dropping from 3rd to 7th place.
  • All of these airlines did worse on percentage of cancelled flights in 2013, compared to 2012.
  • The biggest increase in cancelled flights was for AirTran, with about 1.22% more flights cancelled in 2013 than 2012.
  • All airlines did worse in 2013 than in 2012 for on-time flights.
  • The biggest decrease in on-time flights was for AirTran, with about 22.10% fewer on-time flights in 2013 than in 2012.
  • All airlines did worse in 2013 than in 2012 for mishandled baggage.
  • The biggest increase in mishandled baggage was for AirTran, with 3.7 more mishandled bags per 1000 passengers in 2013 than in 2012 — an increase of nearly 250% (248.32).
  • Half the airlines had fewer denied boardings per million passengers, half had more — in 2013, compared to 2012.
  • The biggest increase in denied boardings was 93 per million passengers for Frontier in 2013, compared to 45 per million in 2012 — an increase of about 205% (206.67%).
  • The biggest decrease in denied boardings was 80 per million passengers for United in 2013, compared to 173 per million in 2012 — a decrease of about 45% (46.24%).
  • The airline with the highest customer satisfaction score in 2013 was JetBlue with 83. In 2012 was JetBlue with 81. Scores are based on 2012 and 2013 ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) scores.
  • The airline with the lowest customer satisfaction score in 2013 was United with 62, and again in 2012 with the same score.
  • The airline with the highest increase in customer satisfaction was AirTran with 7 points more in 2013 (81) than in 2012 (74).
  • The Business Insider Rank for airlines is based on a combination of J.D. Power & Associates’ 2013 North American Airline Satisfaction Study and DoT/ BTS data (May 31, 2012, to Jun 1, 2013), as well as Business Insider’s own unique scoring methodology.

Top 10 U.S. Airlines

Overall Ranking — based on all other scores, further below.

Airline 2013 rank 2012 rank Ranking Change
Frontier 1st 5th 4
Virgin America 2nd 1st -1
JetBlue 3rd 2nd -1
Alaska 4th 4th 0
Southwest 5th 6th (tie) 1
Delta 6th 6th (tie) 0
AirTran 7th 3rd -4
US Airways 8th 8th 0
American 9th 9th 0
United 10th 10th 0

Worst Airlines by Cancelled Flights

Cancelled Flights — based on percentage of all scheduled flights per airline.

Airline 2013: % Cancelled 2012: % Cancelled Change
Frontier 0.29% 0.1% 0.19%
Virgin America 0.16% 0% 0.16%
JetBlue 0.74% 0.1% 0.64%
Alaska 0.43% 0.4% 0.03%
Southwest 0.78% 0.6% 0.18%
Delta 0.42% 0.2% 0.22%
AirTran 1.52% 0.3% 1.22%
US Airways 1.39% 0.5% 0.89%
American 1.42% 0.6% 0.82%
United 1.27% 0.9% 0.37%

 

Best Airlines by On-Time Flights

On-Time Flights — percentage on-time.

Airline 2013 % On-Time 2012 % On-Time Change (rounded)
Frontier 77.9% 81.7% -3.80%
Virgin America 70.6% 86.9% -16.30%
JetBlue 69.6% 83% -13.40%
Alaska 87.5% 91.5% -4.00%
Southwest 72.5% 84.2% -11.70%
Delta 76.1% 86.4% -10.30%
AirTran 65.9% 88% -22.10%
US Airways 73% 85.5% -12.50%
American 69.8% 80.3% -10.50%
United 71.1% 77.8% -6.70%

Worst Airlines by Mishandled Baggage

Mishandled Baggage — Number of bags mishandled per 1000 passengers.

Airline 2013 Mishandled Bags 2012 Mishandled Bags Change % Change
Frontier 2.19 1.85 0.34 18.38
Virgin America 0.95 0.76 0.19 25.00
JetBlue 2.14 1.67 0.47 28.14
Alaska 3.5 2.52 0.98 38.89
Southwest 4.23 2.74 1.49 54.38
Delta 2.78 1.93 0.85 44.04
AirTran 5.19 1.49 3.7 248.32
US Airways 3.09 2.02 1.07 52.97
American 3.59 2.6 0.99 38.08
United 4.06 3.5 0.56 16.00

Worst Airlines by Denied Boardings

Denied Boardings — Per 1 million passengers.

Airline 2013 # Denied Boardings 2012 # Denied Boardings Change % Change
Frontier 138 45 93 206.67
Virgin America 7 9 -2 -22.22
JetBlue 2 1 1 100.00
Alaska 32 63 -31 -49.21
Southwest 148 75 73 97.33
Delta 86 44 42 95.45
AirTran 136 83 53 63.86
US Airways 66 72 -6 -8.33
American 33 81 -48 -59.26
United 93 173 -80 -46.24

Best Airlines by Consumer Satisfaction

Customer Satisfaction Score — Based on ACSI (American Consumer Survey Index) scores.

Airline 2013 Score 2013 Rank 2012 Score 2012 Rank Score Change
Frontier 72 3 74 3 -2
Virgin America 72 3 74 3 -2
JetBlue 83 1 81 1 2
Alaska 72 3 74 3 -2
Southwest 81 2 77 2 4
Delta 68 4 65 4 3
AirTran 81 2 74 3 7
US Airways 64 6 65 4 -1
American 65 5 64 5 1
United 62 7 62 6 0

Delays for Major U.S. Air Carriers

  • From 1988 through 2012, the worst year for late departures is 2007, with approximately 1.57M (1,572,978) delayed flights out of about 7.46M (7,455,458) — or 21.1%.
  • 2007 is also the worst year for late arrivals, with approximately 1.80M (1,804,028) flights — or 24.2%.
  • Cancellations have historically (within 1988-2012) been a fairly small percentage of scheduled flights. The worst year was 2001, with 231K (231,198) cancelled flights of 5,967,780 — or 3.9%.
  • Diversions are even less common, with 2008 being the worst year at 17,265 flights of about 7.01M (7,009,726) — or 24.63%.
  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics note: Delayed flights refer to those that are late 15 minutes after the scheduled flight departure time, or which arrive 15 minutes after the schedule arrival time. For further details on this data, see http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_68.html

Mishandled Baggage for Largest U.S. Air Carriers

Here are mishandled baggage reports for the largest U.S. air carriers reporting, from 1990 to 2012.

  • 1.78 million mishandled baggage reports in 2012; 574.51 million enplaned passengers; 3.09 reports per 1,000 passengers.
  • Worst year by total number of baggage mishandling reports: 2007: 4.40 million reports; 624.69 million enplaned passengers; 7.05 reports per 1,000 passengers.
  • Worst year by reports per 1,000 passengers: also 2007
  • For further details about this data, see http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_65.html
Year Total mishandled-baggage reports (millions) Enplaned passengers (domestic) (millions) Reports per 1,000 passengers
1990 2.66 395.7 6.73
1991 2.2 408.47 5.38
1992 2.45 416.95 5.87
1993 2.28 407.55 5.6
1994 2.32 435.67 5.33
1995 2.28 439.8 5.18
1996 2.46 464 5.3
1997 2.28 459.83 4.96
1998 2.48 481.75 5.16
1999 2.54 499.1 5.08
2000 2.74 517.47 5.29
2001 2.14 467.93 4.58
2002 1.81 471.35 3.84
2003 2.2 524.52 4.19
2004 2.82 575.36 4.91
2005 2.94 442.02 6.64
2006 4.08 606.6 6.73
2007 4.4 624.69 7.05
2008 3.14 595.82 5.26
2009 2.1 527.83 3.99
2010 1.95 554.5 3.51
2011 1.72 514.23 3.35
2012 1.78 574.61 3.09

Percentage of Flights Arriving On Time for Largest U.S. Air Carriers

  • 81.9% of flights in 2012 (by the largest U.S. air carriers) were on time.
  • The best year since 1990 was 1991, with 82.5% on-time flights.
  • The worst year since 1990 was 2000, with 72.6% on-time flights during this period.
  • “A flight is considered on time if it arrived less than 15 minutes after the scheduled time shown in the carriers’ Computerized Reservations Systems. Canceled and diverted operations are counted as late.” For additional notes on this data, please see http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_66.html

Number of Airports by Year

  • 19,782 — the number of airports in the U.S. (public, private and military use) in 2011.
  • 5,172 — the number of public use airports in the U.S. in 2011.
  • The total airports in the U.S. by year, from 1980-2011, in the table below.
Year Total Airports
1990 17,490
1991 17,581
1992 17,846
1993 18,317
1994 18,343
1995 18,224
1996 18,292
1997 18,345
1998 18,770
1999 19,098
2000 19,281
2001 19,356
2002 19,572
2003 19,581
2004 19,820
2005 19,854
2006 19,983
2007 20,341
2008 19,930
2009 19,750
2010 19,802
2011 19,782

Total Number of Departures and Passengers by Year

Here are the number of scheduled and performed departures, and enplaned passengers by year for 1990-2011.

  • In the given period, 1991 had the minimum number of performed departures with 6.545M.
  • 2007 had the maximum number of performed departures with about 10.842M (10,842,368).
  • 1992 had the minimum number of scheduled departures with about 6.704M (6,703,670).
  • 2007 had the maximum number of scheduled departures with about 10.533M (10,553,325).
  • 1991 had the minimum number of enplaned passengers with about 428.32M (428,319,248).
  • 2007 had the maximum number of enplaned passengers with about 718.74M (718,735,471).
  • For more details on this data, see http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_37.html
Year Total Aircraft Departures Performed Total Aircraft Departures Scheduled Enplaned Revenue Passengers
1990 6,641,681 6,758,571 438,544,001
1991 6,545,000 7,024,412 428,319,248
1992 6,606,609 6,703,670 447,625,988
1993 7,193,841 7,058,097 468,313,029
1994 7,513,232 7,359,093 508,458,194
1995 8,030,530 7,920,467 526,055,483
1996 8,204,674 8,064,653 558,183,741
1997 8,095,888 7,907,554 568,615,687
1998 8,248,269 8,094,020 588,335,318
1999 8,605,486 8,432,940 610,628,716
2000 8,929,559 8,688,776 639,753,899
2001 8,548,932 8,340,180 595,364,778
2002 8,052,756 7,981,190 575,058,533
2003 8,585,736 8,479,414 593,132,200
2004 9,444,234 9,193,220 652,413,250
2005 9,859,941 9,722,715 690,135,672
2006 9,512,017 9,429,017 690,765,508
2007 10,842,368 10,533,325 718,735,471
2008 10,307,025 9,975,967 690,249,540
2009 9,646,132 9,324,192 656,995,166
2010 9,596,396 9,241,790 670,370,501
2011 9,577,700 9,160,580 681,353,394

Top 10 Airports by Passengers

Here are the top 10 U.S. airports based on the number of passengers enplaned in 2012. Data for 2011 and 2002 is provided for comparison.

  • The top 5 airports held the same rank for 2011 and 2012.
  • The only different for the top 5 from 2002 to 2012 is that LAX moved from 4th to 5th, and DEN moved from 5th to 4th thanks to a 56.9% increase in passenger enplanements.
  • LAX had a 21.1% increase in enplaned passengers from 2002 to 2012.
  • The biggest percentage increase in passenger enplanements from 2011 to 2012 was for OAK (Oakland, CA) with +8.9%, going from approximately 4.45M (4,454,792) to approximately 4.85M (4,851,495) passengers enplaned.
  • The biggest percentage decrease from 2011 to 2012 was for MEM (Memphis, TN) with -22.7%, going from 4,336,363 (rank 41) to 3,352,014 (rank 50) passengers enplaned.
  • The biggest percentage increase in passenger enplanements from 2002 to 2012 was for CLT (Charlotte, NC) with 88.2%, going from 10,588,836 (rank 18) to 19,928,299 (rank 6) passengers enplaned — an increase of approximately 25.5K (25,587) extra passengers per day, on average.
  • The biggest percentage decrease in passenger enplanements from 2002 to 2012 was for PIT (Pittsburgh, PA) with -50.9%, going from 7,869,004 (rank 24) to 3,866,507 (rank 45) — a decrease of approximately 11K (10,965) passengers per day, on average.
  • Approximately 574M (573,663,258) passengers were enplaned collectively at the top 50 U.S. airports in 2012, compared to approximately 568M (567,985,993) in 2011 and approximately 490M (489,565,065) in 2002. 2012 figures were an increase of about 1% over 2011 and 17.2% over 2002.
  • For the top 50 U.S. airports, an average of about 1.56M passengers per day were enplaned in 2012, compared to 1.57M for 2011 and 1.34M for 2002. This equates to an average of 31.1K passengers enplaned per airport per day in 2012, 31.4K in 2011, and 26.8K in 2002.
  • For all U.S. airports, total enplaned passengers was approximately 692M (692,260,306) in 2012, compared to approximately 688M (687,860,706) in 2011. This averages to about 1.88M passengers enplaned per day in 2012, 1.90M in 2011, and 1.70M in 2002.
  • For further information about this data, please see http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_44.html
Airport Code 2011 Rank 2011 Total Enplaned Passengers 2012 Rank 2012 Total Enplaned Passengers % change 2011-2012 2002 Rank 2002 Total Enplaned Passengers % change 2002-2012
Atlanta, GA ( Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International) ATL 1 43,869,381 1 45,192,870 3 1 37,098,528 21.8
Chicago, IL ( Chicago O’Hare International)) ORD 2 29,781,567 2 29,983,544 0.7 2 28,762,254 4.2
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX ( Dallas/Fort Worth International) DFW 3 27,184,184 3 27,555,896 1.4 3 24,221,233 13.8
Denver, CO ( Denver International) DEN 4 25,397,404 4 25,511,455 0.4 5 16,262,860 56.9
Los Angeles, CA ( Los Angeles International) LAX 5 24,433,941 5 24,982,954 2.2 4 20,635,458 21.1
Charlotte, NC ( Charlotte Douglas International) CLT 7 18,926,433 6 19,928,299 5.3 18 10,588,836 88.2
Phoenix, AZ ( Phoenix Sky Harbor International) PHX 6 19,444,304 7 19,221,241 -1.1 6 16,231,688 18.4
San Francisco, CA ( San Francisco International) SFO 10 17,410,143 8 18,567,216 6.6 13 12,406,057 49.7
Las Vegas, NV ( McCarran International) LAS 8 18,503,661 9 18,467,290 -0.2 7 15,699,600 17.6
Houston, TX ( George Bush Intercontinental/Houston) IAH 9 18,414,660 10 18,155,248 -1.4 8 15,234,668 19.2

Airlines_thumb

References

Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites:

  1. http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/16234139/best-us-airlines-2013-edition/
  2. http://www.airfarewatchdog.com/blog/12617617/best-us-airlines/
  3. http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/index.html