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Worst Airline in US? United, Says Survey, While Delta's Best

By    |   Monday, 11 Aug 2014 11:46 AM

The title of worst U.S. airline, based on overall performance in the past year, is United Airlines, which came in eighth overall in a survey by website AirfareWatchdog.com, while Southwest and AirTran ranked at the bottom for on-time arrivals and mishandled baggage.

Delta Airlines was rated as the best airline overall, based on the strength of its individual categories (first), on-time arrivals (second), customer satisfaction score (third), according to the AirfareWatchdog.com survey.

United ranked last in customer satisfaction and number of denied boardings, and rated sixth in fewest canceled flights. While Southwest and AirTran, which is owned by Southwest, ranked at the bottom in on-time arrivals and mishandled bags, their overall rating received a boost with a No. 2 rating in its customer satisfaction score.

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"Of course, these overall rankings are more nuanced than they seem," wrote Catey Hill, of the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch blog. "While Delta ranked first in overall performance, its boarding denials are fairly high (more than 74 per one million passengers, compared with just 3.58 per one million for JetBlue)."

In terms of overall performance, Virgin American ranked behind Delta in the AirfareWatchdog.com poll, followed by Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, Southwest (AirTran), American Airlines (US Airways) and United.

The New York Post reported that JetBlue received a lot of praise in the survey. The Post said George Hobica, the founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, pointed out that since JetBlue rarely overbooks, it dramatically improves its boarding denial rates. Hobica noted that the airline has "a better economy-class experience" because of more leg room.

Delta's leap to No. 1 was impressive after the airline was ranked No. 6 in AirfareWatchdog.com's first two surveys. Frontier was ranked No. 1 last year and Virgin America was rated No. 1 in the website's initial rankings in 2012.

"While some airlines score better than others, the industry as a whole is still hated by consumers," Hill wrote for MarketWatch.com. "According to a 2014 survey by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, out of the 43 industries measured, airlines ranked 40th in terms of customer satisfaction (only Internet service providers, social media companies and cable and subscription TV providers got worse scores)," Hill continued.

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The title of worst U.S. airline, based on overall performance in the past year, is United Airlines, which came in eighth overall in a survey by website AirfareWatchdog.com, while Southwest and AirTran ranked at the bottom for on-time arrivals and mishandled baggage.
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