The latest ranking from the national Airline Quality Rating was announced on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. The Airline Quality Rating system rates the performance of 12 different commercial airlines that carry the majority of all passengers in the United States.
The report shows that all four factors – on-time performance, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled bags and customer complaints – improved for the airline industry in 2016.
Southwest had the lowest consumer complaint rate of all 12 airlines. Spirit Airlines had the highest complaint rate.
"Seven of these 12 airlines got better in all four categories, so that's good," says Dean Headley, a Wichita State University Professor and co-author of the study. "Nine of the 12 got better in three out of four, so it's not just a little here and there that we're seeing. It's actually the entire group seems to be moving in the right direction."
Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance, and Spirit Airlines had the worst. The report also reveals that all 12 airlines had the lowest rate of both bumped passengers and mishandled baggage for the industry since the rankings started in 1991.
Alaska Airlines was rated the No. 1 airline of 2016. Hadley says he expects Alaska Airlines’ good performance to benefit local travelers.
“For Wichita, that’s quite nice because Alaska starts flying out of here on April 13, so we’re looking at an airline now giving us access to the northwest in a very specific way," Hadley says.
Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.
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