The 12 Best and Worst Airlines of 2017


It's hard to argue with savings on airfare. But cheap tickets come with other less obvious costs, such as poor service. That's where the number-crunching gurus at Wallethub come in. The analysts there created a systematic ranking of the best and worst airlines in their annual report. When you have a choice of carriers, use this report to pick wisely.

On the heels of it's recent PR debacle, United didn't fair too poorly in this Wallethub ranking, which was based by airline data from 2016. The 2017 data might have another story to tell.

Alaska Airlines rates as the best overall U.S. carrier in Wallethub’s annual 2017 Best & Worst Airlines report. Delta Air Lines came in second to the best. Wallethub evaluated the 10 largest U.S. airlines plus two regional carriers in 2016. To come up with its ratings, Wallethub analyzed flight data according to 13 metrics across three major categories: baggage, departures and complaints; animal incidents; in-flight comfort and cost.

RELATED: More Travel Coverage

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Most of us pick our airlines based on a flight’s cost, connections and airport convenience. However, when there’s a choice, it’s helpful to know which airlines are most likely to deliver a good experience or a bad one.

I would like to see passengers who have a choice of airlines avoid United Airlines; after all, no one needs to worry about being violently dragged down an airplane aisle by airport personnel.

In the you-get-what-you-pay-for category, Spirit and Frontier ranked at the bottom of the survey — A.K.A. the worst airlines, and both carriers also ranked as the least expensive airlines and the ones with the highest rate of complaints.

How Wallethub Ranked the Airlines

One interesting result is that JetBlue, which was rated as the most comfortable airline, only placed sixth out of 12 airlines overall. Another surprise is that United Airlines placed fourth. Although the carrier’s recent bad bumping behavior did not factor into Wallethub’s statistics because the incident took place in 2017, United, one can assume, must not think highly of its passengers if the CEO could initially label the dragging and pulling of a customer as a correct procedure.

1. Alaska Airlines earned the number one spot with a score of 81.02 out of a possible 100.

2. Delta Air Lines came in second with a score of 73.08.

3. Skywest placed third, 68.67

4. United Airlines placed fourth, 63.38

5. Virgin America, 62.30

6. JetBlue, 62.00

Click to the next page to see airlines seven through 12.

7. American Airlines, 61.79

8. Expressjet Airlines, 61.73

9. Hawaiian Airlines, 56.64

10. Southwest Airlines, 53.17

11. Spirit Airlines, 53.17

12. Frontier Airlines, 44.82

Additional Wallethub Findings

· Most comfortable airline: JetBlue offers free Wi-Fi, extra legroom and complimentary snacks and beverages

· Cheapest airlines: Spirit and Frontier

· Best airline for pets: Alaska Airlines

· Highest complaint rates: Frontier and Spirit

Follow Candyce H. Stapen on Twitter: @FamilyiTrips

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