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.

Image: Nadezhda1906

The post The Airlines Americans Hate the Least appeared first on Credit.com.

United Has a New Fee Policy for Changing Awards Flights

United-Airlines-fees

If you’re enrolled in United Airlines’ MileagePlus rewards program, there is a new fee policy going into effect soon that you want to know about.

If you need to change or cancel a flight booked using rewards, the fee will be based on how close your new travel date is to your original travel date, as well as your MileagePlus status. Timeline dates are broken into two tiers: 61 or more days and 60 days or less.

For example, if you’re a general member, you’ll pay $75 if you change or cancel with redeposit 61 or more days prior to original departure date, and $125 if you change or cancel 60 days or less prior to the original departure date. However, if you’re at the highest tiers — Premier 1K and United Global Services — you won’t pay these fees, no matter when you change or cancel your travel plans.

Premium Platinum members can also escape the fee if they change or cancel with redeposit 61 or more days prior to original departure date. After that, they’re subject to a $50 fee. Premier Gold members will pay $25 if they change 61 days or more before departure, and $75 within 60 days or less of departure; Premier Silver members will pay $50 and $100, respectively.

These changes apply to all MileagePlus members and will be implemented on all flights using awards booked on or after October 6, 2016. (Previously, fees were based on a window of 21 days from departure.) Of course, certain restrictions and additional fees may apply, so you’ll want to check with your travel agent or a United representative before making any changes to your travel plans.

You Can Cut Some Travel-Related Fees

If you’re hoping to save on your travels, becoming a reward member of the airline and any hotels you frequent may be a good starting point. Beyond that, you may want to consider a travel credit card (you can read our roundup of the best travel credit cards in America here). Many airline credit cards offer free checked bags and other perks, while some hotel-specific cards offer benefits for their properties. Keep in mind, these cards are ideal for people who can pay their balances in full each billing cycle. Otherwise, you’ll lose most of the benefits to paying interest.

Before you apply, you’ll want to consider what type of card will benefit you the most for your travels as well as to make sure the annual fees that may be associated with it are worthwhile. It’s also a good idea to review your credit before applying, as many reward credit cards require a good credit score to qualify. By seeing if you fall in that category before applying, you’ll avoid getting hit with a hard inquiry that could hurt your score even if you don’t wind up with the credit card. To see where your credit currently stands, you can view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

Image: rypson

The post United Has a New Fee Policy for Changing Awards Flights appeared first on Credit.com.