airline quality ratings

Best airlines – rated.

Courtesy SFO Museum

Courtesy SFO Museum

Virgin America had a big day yesterday: it not only was named the best airline in the U.S. in the annual Airline Quality Rating study, but it was announced the airline was bought by Alaska Airlines – the airline the study named the fifth best.

Here are this year’s Airline Quality Rating rankings for 2015, with the 2014 ranking in parentheses:

Virgin America (1)
JetBlue (4)
Delta (3)
Hawaiian (2)
Alaska (5)
Southwest (6)
SkyWest (10)
United (9)
ExpressJet (11)
American (7)
Frontier (8)
Envoy Air (12)
Spirit (new to rating in 2015)

The annual Airline Quality Rating is a highly regarded study that compares metrics for everything from on-time performance to customer complaints and is a joint venture between Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and DWichita State University.

The report concludes that overall, the airline industry collectively improved in three of the four core elements traced by the AQR study: on-time performance, rate of involuntary denied boardings, and the rate of mishandled baggage.

But the rate of customer complaints increased to its highest level in 15 years, per passenger served.

Other tidbits from the report:

On-time performance: Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance (88.4 percent) for 2015, and Spirit had the worst (69.0 percent).

Involuntary denied boardings: Least (best): JetBlue and Hawaiian, with a rate of 0.02 and 0.03 per 10,000 passengers, respectively. Envoy (2.35), ExpressJet (1.86) and SkyWest (1.78) had the highest involuntary denied boarding rates per 10,000 passengers.

Baggage handling: Virgin America had the best baggage handling rate (0.84 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers) of all airlines, and Envoy Air had the worst baggage handling rate (8.52 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers).

Consumer complaints: Alaska had the lowest consumer complaint rate (0.50 per 100,000 passengers) of all airlines. Spirit had the highest consumer complaint rate (11.73 per 100,000 passengers).

See the full report here.