Airlines Likely to Lose Out, According to Department of Transportation Data

If you’re booking a summer trip and are faced with a selection of tickets at the same price from different airlines, it’s worth doing a little homework first. The Department of Transportation recently released its Consumer Air Travel Report , and its findings include data on the quality of service provided by each airline. In other words, you can figure out which one you should avoid due to a bad history with delays, cancellations, baggage mishandling and more.

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The raw data is pretty useless, but with a little effort and analysis, which I’ve provided below, you’ll be able to make the most informed choice. The Department of Transportation filters most of its data through the top 10 domestic airlines (Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines). so I limited my research to these media.

Below, I’ve broken it down into four main headache-causing categories; delays, cancellations, baggage mishandling and overbooked/oversold flights. I gave the top performing airlines in each category 10 points; second highest performer 9 points and so on. Each of the four categories has the same weight, and the airline’s place in each of them is summed up to obtain a total score. All data is as of March 2022, which is the most recent available, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report.

Which airline suffers the most from delays?

According to the report, a flight is considered on time if it “was completed less than 15 minutes after the scheduled time shown on the carriers’ computerized booking systems.”

Airlines that are least likely to arrive on time:

  1. Allegiant Airlines (62% of flights arrived on time)
  2. JetBlue Airways (63% of flights arrived on time)
  3. Frontier Airlines (65% of flights arrived on time)
  4. Spirit Airlines (71% of flights arrived on time)
  5. Southwest Airlines (75% of flights arrived on time)

Airlines most likely to arrive on time:

  1. Hawaiian Airlines (83% of flights arrived on time)
  2. Delta Airlines (81% of flights arrived on time)
  3. Alaska Airlines (79% of flights arrived on time)
  4. American Airlines (78% of flights arrived on time)
  5. United Airlines (76% of flights arrived on time)

Which airline has the most flight cancellations?

Airlines most likely to cancel your flight:

  1. Allegiant Airlines (5.4% of flights cancelled)
  2. Frontier Airlines (4.5% of flights cancelled)
  3. JetBlue Airways (cancelled 2.8% of flights)
  4. Spirit Airlines (2.1% of flights canceled)
  5. Southwest Airlines (2.0% of flights cancelled)

The airlines least likely to cancel your flight are:

  1. Hawaiian Airlines (0.4% of flights cancelled)
  2. Delta Airlines (0.9% of flights canceled)
  3. United Airlines (1.0% of flights canceled)
  4. Alaska Airlines (1.3% of flights canceled)
  5. American Airlines (cancelled 1.5% of flights)

Which airline is most likely to mishandle baggage?

The report defines mishandled baggage as follows: “the number of checked bags that were lost, damaged, delayed or stolen, as reported by or on behalf of a passenger, that were in the custody of an airline for its domestic non-stop scheduled passenger flights subject to check-in. “.

The airlines that most often mishandle your luggage are:

  1. American Airlines (0.69 per 100 bags)
  2. JetBlue Airlines (0.67 per 100 bags)
  3. Delta Airlines (0.65 per 100 bags)
  4. Alaska Airlines (0.65 per 100 bags)
  5. United Airlines (0.58 per 100 bags)

Airlines least likely to mishandle your baggage:

  1. Allegiant Airlines (0.18 per 100 bags)
  2. Hawaiian Airlines (0.24 per 100 bags)
  3. Frontier Airlines (35 cents for 100 bags)
  4. Spirit Airlines (0.40 per 100 bags)
  5. Southwest Airlines (0.45 per 100 bags)

Which airline is most likely to rebook a flight?

According to the report, an involuntary boarding denial is defined as “the number of passengers who have confirmed bookings and are denied boarding on a flight due to oversold.” This does not include passengers who choose to exchange their seat for some other form of compensation.

Airlines most likely to unwittingly deny boarding:

  1. Frontier Airlines (5.3 passengers per 10,000 people)
  2. Southwest Airlines (0.7 passengers per 10,000 people)
  3. American Airlines (0.5 passengers per 10,000 people)
  4. Spirit Airlines (0.5 passengers per 10,000 people)
  5. Alaska Airlines (0.1 passengers per 10,000 people)

The airlines least likely to inadvertently deny boarding are:

  1. (T1) Delta Airlines (0 passengers per 10,000)
  2. (T1) Allegiant Airlines (0 passengers per 10,000)
  3. (T1) Hawaiian Airlines (0 passengers per 10,000)
  4. United Airlines (0.02 passengers per 10,000 people)
  5. JetBlue Airways (0.08 passengers per 10,000)

So which airlines are the best and which suck?

After summarizing the above rankings, here’s how the top 10 shakes out, from best to worst:

  1. Hawaiian Airlines (38 points)
  2. Delta Airlines (30 points)
  3. United Airlines (26 points)
  4. Alaska Airlines (24 points)
  5. Allegiant Airlines (21 points)
  6. Spirit Airlines (19 points)
  7. American Airlines (17 points)
  8. Southwest Airlines (16 points)
  9. Frontier Airlines (14 points)
  10. JetBlue Airlines (13 points)

Fly to Hawaii, avoid JetBlue?

If you’re looking for the least stressful flight, Hawaiian Airlines is your best bet, at least according to the Department of Transportation. Obviously, in addition to this metric, other variables are taken into account when booking an airline flight, primarily price and availability. (Even though Hawaiian Airlines scores highly across the board, it’s not particularly helpful to you unless you’re…flying to Hawaii.) But it does give you another data point to debate between which major airline or low-cost carrier choose.

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