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The Best and Worst Airline Carriers in the United States as of 2024

Picking the best airline for your travel can often be a challenging decision. Most of the airline carriers in the U.S. have their pros and cons. Thus, you have to weigh your options carefully, if you want to have a smooth experience. Here is a list of the best and worst airlines carriers in the United States. The United States has many international and regional airline carriers, where each one varies in comparison to how they conduct their operations and customer experience. Best and worst airline carriers in United States.

In this travel guide prepared by Treknova, we shall take a look at the best and the worst U.S. airlines. These are listed based on several grounds of services they offer and other factors.

A Comprehensive List of the Best and Worst Airline Carriers in U.S.

The airlines have been scored from best to worst, however, as you know, airlines’ coverage varies widely. Many of the top airlines only fly to and from limited destinations. So when you’re booking a flight, search for the route you want and look for the airlines in this order. You might not end up with the top ranked airlines, but at least you’ll end up with the best available to you. Standby flights ticket booking tips For The US Airlines.

It’s also worth noting that, besides airport coverage, there are other intangible or not easily measured criteria that’s left out of this analysis that you’ll probably want to consider, such as whether a travel credit card could get you extra perks on a specific airline, the airline’s rewards program, how family friendly the airline is, and so on. Still, this is a starting point.

Here is a list of major commercial airline carriers in the United States and see on which grounds are they best or worst. Cheap military flights discount as well in different airlines carriers.

A. Best Airline Carriers in the United States:

Alaska Airlines

Years of Operation: 76 years (since 1944)

Pros: Alaska Airlines offers great prices, friendly service, comfortable seats and one of the best loyalty programs for regular customers.

Cons: None

We start our list with one of the most popular and praised airlines in the U.S. Alaska Airlines has some of the lowest prices for a mile of travel, and customer satisfaction is among the highest in the industry. Travelers appreciate the comfort of their seats, especially with premium seating, tasty food and low extra fares. All in all, even if you wanted to find something to be mad about after flying this airline, you would not be able to.

Alaska Airlines is an international airline carrier that serves a total of 116 destinations in the United States, Canada, Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico. If you are flying somewhere on Alaska Airlines’ route, you probably will not regret its low-cost fees. It’s the least amount of fees among the airlines. The fee is just $20 for your first and second bags.

The airline also has the least number of complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The Seattle-based carrier had a healthy on-time rating and was above average in almost every regard except the size of its route and lounge networks. And when it came to its frequent-flyer program, Alaska Airlines is the best in the U.S.

Delta Air Lines

Years of Operation: 91 years (since 1929)

Pros: Delta Airlines has a huge network size, low prices, minimum delays and lost baggage cases, high-quality food and highly comfortable seats.

Cons: Some of their planes in operation are very old.

Delta Airlines is among the biggest passenger carriers in the U.S., serving around 325 destinations in six continents However, it is not what makes it one of the best, though. Instead, what does is the relatively low ticket prices and the quality of service that you get for that price.

Delta knows how to keep their customers satisfied and their employees are well-mannered and welcoming. Over the past few years, the airline has made some improvements in the luggage-checking and delay-reducing factors. However, what they could not improve yet are the planes on some routes. Well, at the end of the day, no company is without a flaw.

Delta’s on-time performance is actually above average, but the high fees drag its rank down. Also, they are far from the worst airline, but enough customer experience makes Delta being the beloved and most trusted airline it might want to be. Though it did not top the timeliness or cancellation categories, it did earn respect for itself. Also, the fact that Delta was buoyed by its pervasive route and lounge networks and commendably low bump rate, it was enough to put it on the top.

Southwest Airlines

Years of Operation: 49 years (since 1971)

Pros: Southwest Airlines has fair additional fares policy, great customer experience and big coverage.

Cons: There are certain safety concerns.

Southwest Airlines is America’s low-cost airline carrier that serves around 103 destinations in 10 countries, including the United States. It earns a top spot, especially if you are a frequent flier. However, despite its very low fees, no change fees and free checked bag, its on-time performance is still below average. Also, it has a slightly above average history of excessively late flights. Still, Southwest is among the best airlines with the fewest DOT complaints.

Although according to the DOT, it has the highest rate of baggage incidents. The airline carrier suffered from its relatively bare-bones cabin features, and was below average for on-time arrivals and cancellations. Nonetheless, Southwest is the clear winner when it comes to ancillary fees and has a loyal following that gives it a way higher customer satisfaction rating than other airlines.

Southwest Airlines has a transparent and honest fair policy with benefits for the elderly. Also, both the comfort of the cabins and the courtesy of the staff make it one of the best-rated airlines in the U.S. However, it is also the only airline carrier that had an accident with a human casualty in the last decade. It actually was the first casualty the airline had in the last 49 years since the commencement of its operations. But, no matter what, this means that the airline cannot be considered one of the safest airlines in the United States.

Allegiant Air

Years of Operation: 22 years (since 1998)

Pros: Allegiant Air offers new comfortable planes, direct flights and friendly crews.

Cons: The airline has a higher rate of delays, and is not IATA-approved.

Allegiant Air is America’s low-cost or budget airline carrier that serves around 128 destinations. It has become a major airline in recent years and deserves its place on the list of the best airlines in U.S. Many travellers have noted the use of new planes and friendly customer service the company provides for a fair price. There are, however, some problems that needs to be taken care of, though. For example, their flights have a considerably higher frequency of technical delays and cancellations.

Allegiant is a smaller airline that flies very specific routes mostly to the south. However, it is worth a look if you are going somewhere they travel. Not only do they have among the lowest fees of the bunch, they also bag the highest on-time performance scores. It did lose big points for its lack of cabin features, lounges, high number of delayed flights and customer complaints.

United Airlines

Years of Operation: 89 years (since 1931)

Pros: United Airlines has rare delays and baggage losses, and customer complaints are also taken into consideration.

Cons: They charge higher fares and has been in controversy.

United Airlines is a major American carrier that serves around 342 destinations in six continents. The Chicago-based United was in the middle of the pack for timeliness, but excelled in its array of lounges and in keeping down its number of involuntary bumps last year.

United Airlines only rises above the other airlines at the bottom for its slightly lower total additional fees. Otherwise, United actually fares a bit worse when it comes to on-time performance, its flights cancelled or diverted. Overall customer satisfaction is also below average.

Even if you do not fly very often, you have probably heard about the controversy surrounding the airline carrier. However, the controversy did not stop the airline from being one of the best airlines in the U.S. United has actually received fewer complaints from customers this year than last year. You should not worry about being thrown off the plane, but be prepared to pay for your baggage, as the United fares are quite high.

B. Worst Airline Carriers in the United States:

Frontier Airlines

Years of Operation: 26 years (since 1994)

Pros: Frontier Airlines has its network growing continuously, and their flights are relatively cheaper.

Cons: The airline receives frequent baggage delays and lost complaints.

Frontier Airlines is America’s low-cost airline carrier that serves around 112 destinations in the United States and 30 international destinations. Frontier is starting off our list of the worst airline carriers. However, it is more mediocre than bad. The only bothersome things are the delays and the frustrating customer experience, but the airline seems to be improving in that regard. Though it represented the best value, Frontier’s passengers are giving up cabin comforts and most notably, on-time flights.

It also bumped more passengers than any other airline on average. Not surprisingly, It had the highest rate of complaints per passenger. Not only does Frontier have sub-par on-time performance, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) air travel consumer report reveals that Frontier had the most number of complaints of the airlines with data on them, which is more than twice the average number of complaints per 100,000 passengers. It also has an above-average number of baggage mishandling reports.

However, Frontier does better than the others in the bottom half because their fees are not as terrible in some cases as you might expect. The airline does not charge for booking on the phone or in person. Also, both the first and second checked bags are just $20, and additional bags are lower than most airlines at $50.

American Airlines

Years of Operation: 84 years (since 1936)

Pros: American Airlines has the most expansive network.

Cons: The airline faces frequent delays and baggage losses, charges high auxiliary fares, and earns low customer satisfaction.

American Airlines is a major airline carrier that serves around 350 destinations in more than 50 countries. It operates flights throughout the U.S., and the price of one mile is relatively low. However, it is apparent that this airline does not put their customers first which leads to a bunch of inconveniences, like frequent delays, baggage getting lost or delayed, higher extra fees, etc.

A large number of destination airports, lounges, low bump rate, and high frequent-flyer rating were just not enough to make up for America’s lackluster on-time and cancellation scores, or its low customer satisfaction rating. Below-average on-time performance, above-average excessively late performance, and below-average customer satisfaction place American Airlines in the category of the worst airline carriers in the U.S. It does not help that the airline’s total fees add up to the highest among other carriers.

JetBlue Airways

Years of Operation: 20 years (since 2000)

Pros: JetBlue Airways offers comfortable cabins and adequate fees.

Cons: The airline suffers from small network size, relatively high ticket prices and lots of headaches.

JetBlue Airways is a low-cost airline carrier in the United States that serves around a hundred destinations in the U.S., Mexico, Caribbean, Central America and South America. It is not a huge airline, but it is not one with a low-fare either. The price for a mile is relatively high, however, you do not have to pay as much for baggage and changing the details on the ticket. Overall, the flight is accommodating, but the frequency of baggage losses and flight delays has grown considerably in the past year or so.

All in all, JetBlue has the most comfortable coach cabins in the sky, and rarely loses bags or bumps passengers. But, the New York-based carrier’s high rate of delayed and cancelled flights prevent it from doing well in the list of the best airline carriers in the U.S. JetBlue has poor on-time performance, but total additional fees are a bit higher and are destined to increase as well. Now, that the airline plans on charging for checked bags, JetBlue has the highest customer satisfaction, though that might change too in the near future.

Hawaiian Airlines

Years of Operation: 91 years (since 1929)

Pros: Hawaiian Airlines is praised for its direct flights, great food and nice service.

Cons: The airline offers higher ticket prices and small coverage.

Hawaiian Airlines is an American airline carrier that serves around 32 destinations in Asia, American Samoa, Australia, French Polynesia, Hawaii, New Zealand and the United States mainland. The airline is, however, far from being the worst.

The ticket prices are one of the most important criteria that determine the airline’s popularity, which is why it definitely is not among the best ones. Also, the small number of routes does not play out well for the airline either. On the other hand, most customers are satisfied with what they get, as the service and the food they receive are on par with their expectations.

There is no doubt about it that Hawaiian was the best airline for you getting you to your destination on time, helped no doubt by the islands’ excellent climate. The problem was that the airline does not have a lot of those destinations to get you to, at least compared to its bigger rivals.

Its small route network, exorbitant fees, and all but non-existent lounges kept Hawaiian from breaking into the list of the best airlines in the U.S. Hawaiian Airlines’ main issue is the additional fees because if you are traveling between the U.S. mainland and the islands, there is a $150 change fee, compared to the $30 change fee if you are flying inter-island. The airline gets middling marks otherwise.

Spirit Airlines

Years of Operation: 40 years (since 1980)

Pros: Spirit Airlines charges low ticket prices and suffers extremely rare baggage losses.

Cons: The airline is faced with lack of comfort, flight delays, security concerns and includes lots of hidden charges.

Spirit Airlines is America’s low-cost airline carrier that serves around 77 destinations throughout the U.S., Caribbean and South America. Spirit has earned itself the name for being the worst airline carrier both according to expert reviews and the customers. And, despite offering low ticket prices, there are too many additional fees. Another reason Spirit is in the list of worst airlines in the U.S. is the low quality of everything, from seats to customer service. Also, the airline is not approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is troubling.

Spirit offered a limited number of destinations, little in the way of cabin comforts and the second-worst frequent flyer program. It was also more likely to bump people on a flight than any other airline. However, there is still room for hope. It was the best airline at making sure you were reunited with your checked bags, and was a good value for what you paid, as long as you were not expecting all the bells and whistles.

Spirit Airlines, time and again, gets called out as the worst of the worst airlines, because of its outrageous fees and negative customer reviews. Furthermore, not only do you have to pay for every single little thing, including carry-on bags, when you fly Spirit, for that privilege you might not even get to your destination on time.

Wrapping Up with the Best Airlines in the U.S.

It is clear that airline carriers, such as Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, and Southwest Airlines top the American carriers. On the other hand, budget carriers like Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Allegiant Air still have some catching up to do.

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