New Report Gives US Airlines Better Grades Across Board

An Alaska Airlines plane flying above the clouds

It bases its findings, in part, on four measures: on-time performance, mishandled bags, denied boardings and customer complaints.

But Hawaiian, JetBlue and Virgin America had a decline in their 2016 AQR score from the previous year, the report notes.

And consumer complaints across the industry declined to 1.52 per 100,000 passengers a year ago, down from 1.90 in 2015.

Alaska Airlines has claimed the top spot in an annual ranking report of United States carriers for 2017.

At the bottom of the ranking in the No. 11 and No. 12 spots are ultra low-priced carriers Spirit and Frontier.

When you combine that information with good service and the addition of Alaska Airlines to Wichita's options, it shows the city is in good shape when it comes to air travel.

As the nation's longest-running study of airline performance quality, the Airline Quality Rating (airlinequalityrating.com) sets the industry standard, providing consumers and industry watchers with a means to compare performance quality among airlines using objective performance-based data.

But, passengers are "still complaining about the same things" - delays, cancellations and other flight problems, said Wichita State University associate professor of marketing Dean Headley. It will be interesting to see if Alaska / Virgin America can avoid the common post-merger decline in performance.

On-time Performance - Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance (91.1 percent) for 2016, and Spirit had the worst (74.3 percent).

The report found that mishandled baggage fell from 3.24 incidents per 1,000 passengers in 2015 to 2.70 in 2016, while on-time performance rose from 79.9 percent to 81.4 percent. Six of the 12 airlines rated had an on-time arrival percentage of better than 80 percent.

The involuntary denied boardings per passenger also improved to 0.62 per 10,000 passengers in 2016 from 0.76 per 10,000 passengers in 2015, according to the report.

At the same time performance has improved, the average price to fly has decreased, down 9 percent to $344 in 2016, he said.

The rate at which passengers were involuntarily prevented from boarding flights - typically because the flight is oversold - dropped from.76 per 10,000 to.62 per 10,000.

Virgin America had the best baggage handling rate (1.03 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers) of all airlines, and ExpressJet had the worst baggage handling rate (4.31 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers).

Not only does the report hold airlines to the fire but it can help consumers make more informed decisions when planning their next trip. Airlines boast when they win.

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