Our 2022 Best of Travel Awards are well underway, and our savvy readers nominated, then voted, for the five best airlines in the U.S. The results are in! Check out why these five airlines made the top of the list.
When it comes to customer service, beneficial rewards programs, and some of the best in-flight amenities available among all major carriers, these airlines are our readers’ top choices for service in the U.S.
1. Southwest Airlines
In the coveted sweet spot of number one is Southwest Airlines.
The airline is known for its flexibility. Their no-change-fee policy is great for any commitment-phobic traveler. If you need to modify your trip, change a date, cancel a flight, or outright cancel your trip, you got it: no change fees! If you need to change something on an international flight or a super economy fare, you are still covered under this policy. If their prices drop, depending on the type of ticket you purchased, you can cancel your ticket, get a refund, and rebook the same flight for less.
The Wanna Get Away fare isn’t fully refundable, but they will give you a future travel credit in the case of a cancellation. Forget about nickel-and-diming extras, like more for an aisle seat and sneaky hidden fees! You can still book a Wanna Get Away fare, get two checked bags for free, and have the ability to cancel or change your flight. The big three legacy carriers (Delta, United, and American) certainly don’t offer that caveat!
When it comes to ticket prices, Southwest’s are generally a tad lower than their legacy competitors. Customers also love their concern for customers, witty and funny flight crews, and minimal cancellations. Something else to consider when flying Southwest is the lack of bells and whistles. If not having a designated seat, flying on only one type of narrow-body aircraft (B737), and doing the “cattle-car” two-step dance to find a seat doesn’t bother you, this is your airline!
2. Delta Airlines
Coming in at a close second is Delta Airlines.
Our readers love Delta because of the overall package: customer loyalty, customer service, professionalism of employees, and great on-time statistics. They also love their extensive routes, their robust rewards program, great airline lounges, and even seat-back TV’s in their smaller airplanes too.
Delta has a popular airline rewards program that its loyal customer base uses and loves. Also loved is the SkyMiles which don’t expire! The hubs for Delta make sense to a large populous that live in some of the most populated cities on the East Coast. Delta has created a good domestic network and offers accessibility to Europe and Asia. They are partnered with other airlines worldwide, connecting passengers to destinations that Delta doesn’t serve, all the while racking up miles towards future trips!
Most readers agree that Delta’s customer experience is the best of all the legacy carries. This is due to the corporate service culture of Delta. They treat customers very well, and make them feel appreciated rather than an inconvenience. This customer loyalty is the benchmark that sets Delta apart from their other legacy rivals. Delta even treats their employees with the similar service culture, offering one of the most generous profit-sharing programs for their staff, from ramp worker to pilot!
3. American Airlines
Placing third is American Airlines. Our voters selected this airline for its size and great reach around the globe. If you want to ride on the largest airline in the country, this should be your choice. American can get you to where you want to go, literally anywhere in the world, on an American flight or through extensive partnerships with other airlines! Getting around the U.S. is a snap because of more options with their large hubs in almost every corner of the country and between.
American has the largest fleet of aircraft (913) dispatched to specialize each route, providing the best product for its customers. For example, American lead the way offering a three-class domestic flight from LAX–JFK on an Airbus 321T. There is something for everyone on a product like this. Featuring fancy or economy seating, both are available at competitive pricing.
The other carriers are following on American’s heels when it comes to similar products. More aircraft are retrofitted to have larger bins making more room for roll-aboards and carry-ons, very important to passengers who don’t check their bags!
Great in-flight viewing is available for free from your personal device:
- You can stream hundreds of free movies, TV shows, music, live TV, Apple TV, Apple music, and more.
- Practice or brush up on a foreign language, for free, on a trip with free Rosetta Stone and Skillshare.
- Wi-Fi is on option as well for a small fee. Regular flyers can purchase a subscription and not miss any of their emails at 35,000 feet!
4. United Airlines
Sitting in fourth place is United Airlines.
One of the oldest legacy air carriers, United has grown into one of the largest airlines and has flights across five continents. United has hubs and large bases in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Houston, Chicago, Newark, and Washington, D.C. Odds are, if you need to go somewhere, you can book a United flight.
United offers several fare classes, each with its own restrictions, offering something for every consumer. Those who want the lowest fares within the U.S. can choose Basic Economy. This class of ticket is really bare bones: lowest price, no seat assignment, and no free roll-aboards allowed. Others who want all the bells and whistles can sit in the very popular Polaris Business Class and soak up all the amenities, like lay-flat sleepers, in-flight PJs, access to the Polaris Club lounge, priority boarding, and yummy meal service.
With United, there’s something for everyone! It offers a wide range of options for all kinds of travelers. United also has a great rewards mileage program through its Chase United credit card. There are many levels of service and accessibility, making this reward program great for United’s loyal customers, especially ones who want to rack up miles to fly somewhere else. Like most rewards programs, you can accrue miles by linking your credit card to dining, buying gas, hotels, and groceries. United is moving up the list of favorites after a rough patch with customer treatment and is determined to dedicate itself to improving their on-board experience.
Current CEO, Scott Kirby, has suggested he wants to turn the airline into something customers prefer rather than settle for. Changes already in process include:
- Restoring seat-back screens
- Additional power outlets
- Reconfiguring aircraft with larger overhead compartments accommodating more roll-aboard space.
5. Alaska Airlines
Last, but certainly not least, is the darling of the West Coast, their favorite airline, Alaska!
This airline consistently ranks in the top spots due to its great relationship with its very loyal customers. Alaska has a culture of treating its customers well, so well that when the wheels fall off the wagon, they are there to make it right. That model works very well for them! Alaska wants their customers to have a memorable experience, from beginning to end, and everywhere in between.
They have a corner on the market for the most non-stop flights from the West Coast than any other airline. That is a key target area when it comes to flying with other carriers that exist in their generous loyalty program. Alaska is a member of the OneWorld Global Alliance and connects with more than 1,000 airline partners. This means you can collect airline miles on any participating OneWorld Airline and redeem them on any of the 20-plus other participating airlines.
Even More Alaska Amenities
- Alaska, with its regional partners serves more than 120 destinations
- Fly across the U.S., Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
- Premium first class services are available.
- Premium coach is also available, with free beer, wine, and cocktails with extra leg-room.
- There is also main cabin coach with no extra fees for aisle or window seats
- Free streaming is offered with over 1,000 movies and TV shows, plus ample USB ports for charging on most flights.
- An affordable $8 Wi-Fi fee is available on most flights.
- FREE texting is also available on most flights (iMessage, FB Messenger, or WhatsApp)!
Pro Tip: Download the Alaska app, and use their cute “buttons” on your texts.
Cleared To Takeoff!
We’d like to offer a big shout-out to our loyal readers and their favorite airlines! Each of these airlines has something to offer and, hopefully, this will help you make your decision easier for your next trip. Be sure to read up on our readers’ top airline rewards programs in our 2022 Best of Travel Awards. Now, go click that “purchase” button and let’s go flying!
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