The Airlines Americans Hate the Least

So you finally made it through airport security and stuffed yourself into that tiny seat (at the back of the plane). You’re filled with an overwhelming dread of missing your connecting flight from all the time you’ve been sitting on the tarmac waiting until it’s your turn to take off. And when you finally arrive at your final destination, you discover your bags ended up in a better place than you.

After all that, if you managed to remain well-disposed to your favorite airline, you’re not alone. Many Americans stay loyal to their favorite airlines despite everything they may have gone through. (Reminder: When the World Airline Awards were announced this summer, not a single American carrier cracked the top 10.) Now, thanks to Airfarewatchdog, an online flight cost comparison site, we know which airlines Americans dislike the least. The site conducted its fifth annual domestic airline comparison survey and deemed Alaska Airlines travelers’ favorite for the second year in a row.

These rankings are based on domestic airline performance in five key areas: canceled flights, customer satisfaction, denied boardings, mishandled baggage and on-time arrivals. According to an email from an Airfarewatchdog spokesperson, each of the categories were weighted differently (for example: denied boardings don’t happen as often as canceled flights, so denied boardings were weighted less).

Most of the information reviewed came from early 2016 Department of Transportation reports, except the customer service information, which came from the 2016 American Customer Satisfaction Index.

In an email, Airfarewatchdog president George Hobica said that, “overall, airlines are doing a better job in pleasing and serving consumers, which suggests that airline consolidation hasn’t been the disaster that many feared.”

The top airlines for overall performance were:

1. Alaska

2. Delta

3. JetBlue

4. Southwest

5. Virgin America

6. Frontier (tie)

6. United (tie)

8. American

9. Spirit

“We’re always working to improve our operation,” American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed said in an email. “I would also note that we had the highest score among the network airlines in the American Customer Satisfaction Index.”

Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.

Saving on Your Next Flight

No matter which airline you prefer to fly with, there’s no denying that flights get expensive. But there are ways you can save, like getting an airline credit card that offers rewards points (you can see the best airline credit cards on the market here). But, while these credit cards offer some perks you may enjoy, getting into debt to save on checking your bag simply isn’t worth it. And don’t forget — reward credit cards are usually ideal for people who don’t carry a balance. Otherwise, you’ll lose all those great rewards to interest payments. To see how paying your credit cards balances in full each month helps your credit score, you can take a look at your free credit report summary on Credit.com.

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What You Need to Know About the Changes to American Airlines’ Frequent Flier Program

American-Airlines-frequent-flier-program

Attention, American Airlines frequent fliers: Your rewards program is about to change.

For travel starting Aug. 1, members of the AAdvantage loyalty program will no longer receive miles based on the distance they flew. Instead, they’ll accrue miles based on the price of a ticket.

The exact number of miles per dollar will be based on status. Base members will receive 5 miles for each dollar spent on tickets, excluding government taxes and fees. Gold members will receive 7 miles per dollar, Platinum members will get 8 miles per dollar and Executive Platinum fliers will get 11 miles per dollar spent.

More Changes Ahead

Starting Jan. 1, the airline will add a fourth tier to its loyalty program, Platinum Pro, which will entitle status holders to benefits including 9 miles per dollar spent, two free checked bags and complimentary auto-requested upgrades on eligible flights within North America and between the U.S. and Central America.

At that time, it will also change the way members earn status upgrades. Effective January 1, you’ll need to meet a certain spending threshold and fly a set number of miles to boost your standing. To become a Gold member, you must spend $3,000 and fly 25,000 miles or 30 segments. To become Platinum, you must spend $6,000 and fly 50,000 miles or 60 segments. To become Platinum Pro, you must spend $9,000 and fly 75,000 miles or 90 segments and to become Executive Platinum, you need to spend $12,000 and fly 100,000 miles or 120 segments.

Maximizing Miles

American Airlines’ shift from miles per dollar to miles for distance was officially announced in November, though no effective dates were provided at the time. This is in-step with changes Delta Airlines and United Airlines already implemented.

American Airlines is making the change “to continue our tradition of having the best loyalty program in the world by rewarding our most loyal customers with the benefits they value the most,” Andrew Nocella, its chief marketing officer, said in a news release.

Of course, if you’re worried about missing out on points now that airlines are awarding them based on price and not distance, you can potentially bolster coffers by pairing membership with a co-branded travel rewards credit card. (You can learn more about the best airline credit cards in America here.) Just be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before applying to figure out if a particular credit card is right for you. You may also want to check your credit before you apply, as a good credit score is generally required to qualify for competitive products. You can see where you currently stand by viewing two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

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