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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Americans’ Favorite Airlines: Southwest, Alaska & JetBlue

favorite airlines

If you’re comparison shopping flights for you summer vacation, take note: Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue were named as the airlines with the best customer service in the industry.

These rankings are based on the 2016 Temkin Experience Ratings, an annual customer experience ranking of companies using the opinions of 10,000 consumers in the U.S. This is the seventh year of the survey, which is conducted by Temkin Group, a research and consulting firm.

The survey asks consumers about their experiences with different companies and ranks them based on three main elements — how successful consumers are at doing what they set out to do with the brand, how easy/difficult it is to work with the brand, and how consumers feel about their experience with each brand.

Southwest has earned the top spot every year since the report was first issued in 2011, except in 2015 when JetBlue overtook the leading position. Southwest is back on top again in the airlines category this year, coming in at 52nd place overall out of the almost 300 companies ranked in 20 different industries.

While Southwest earned a 67% approval rating that caused it to lead the nine airlines that were ranked, Spirit Airlines made the bottom of the list, with only a 40% approval rating. (Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to Credit.com’s request for comment on the rankings.)

Here is how each airline included in the survey ranked:

1. Southwest Airlines: 67%

2. Alaska Airlines: 62%

2. JetBlue Airlines: 62%

4. Delta Airlines: 59%

5. Virgin America: 55%

6. American Airlines: 52%

7. United Airlines: 51%

8. US Airways: 48%

9. Spirit Airlines: 40%

Whichever airline you prefer to fly with, flights can get expensive. You can cut back on some of the extra fees with airline credit cards and even get rewards points that help you pay for your next flight (you can check out our independent ranking of the best airline credit cards on the market here). But keep in mind that, while these credit cards offer some perks you may enjoy, getting into credit card debt to save on checking a suitcase simply isn’t worth it.

(You can see how paying your credit cards off in full each month helps your credit score by reviewing your free credit report summary for free each month on Credit.com.)

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This Is One Time You Want a Screaming Baby On Your Plane

crying_baby

When is a crying baby on a plane a welcome addition? When the airline offers free flights to everyone onboard if the baby does just enough crying.

JetBlue sent a shoutout to parents everywhere, but especially moms, with a Mother’s Day message meant to soothe the frustrations of flying with a cranky baby.

The New York-based airline released a video on Monday of a flight from JFK to Long Beach, California, where several babies were being given the opportunity to cry their hearts out. If they cried enough, everyone onboard would receive a free roundtrip ticket. The babies came through, with everyone onboard cheering.

“In honor of Mother’s Day, we are giving everyone a reason to smile every time a baby cries,” the airline wrote on its YouTube channel, where it posted the video, which you can also see below.

Crying babies on a plane are a minor annoyance compared to some of the other headaches travel can produce, like a lost or stolen credit card, lost luggage, unexpected airline fees and missed connections. You can help smooth your way through some of these hassles, though, by using one of the best travel rewards credit cards when booking your flight and hotel and paying for incidentals.

Which credit card you use to pay for your travels will make a big difference in the rewards you earn. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee that is waived the first year; you can see a full review here.) offers double points on all travel purchases, while the American Express Premier Rewards Gold ($175 annual fee, waived the first year; you can see a full review here.) offers triple points for all flights booked directly with the airlines. (The latter is actually a charge card, which must be paid in full each month.)

Before you apply for any credit card, it’s important to do your research and make sure the card will meet your needs, and that you meet the issuer’s general credit requirements. You can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand, and to get personalized tips to help you improve your credit.

At publishing time, Chase and American Express credit cards, including the Premier Rewards Gold, are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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