Congratulations to Spirit Airlines, which is not the worst airline in America

Delta came out on top in new comprehensive rankings

Congratulations to Spirit Airlines, which is not the worst airline in America
[Photo: Varshesh Joshi/Unsplash]

Frontier Airlines is the worst large airline in the United States, according to the 29th annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR), which was released Monday.


The AQR claims to be the most comprehensive study of performance and quality of the largest U.S. airlines, giving consumers the best sense of the state of air travel in the country. It also has the imprimatur of an academic study, as it is a joint research project of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Arizona, campus.

To determine their rankings, AQR examines information collected in 2018 from the nation’s nine largest airlines and ranks them based on data points like mishandled baggage, on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings, and “a combination of 12 customer complaint categories.”

The good news is that the overall industry AQR score improved for 2018 thanks to improved performance being evident in three of the four areas tracked. In fact, the 2018 score is the best AQR score in the 29-year history of the rating.


The best airline according to AQR is Delta Air Lines. It reached this pinnacle of success despite the fact that the vegetarian option on a recent cross-country flight was literally a rice cake and a banana. JetBlue Airways came in second place, while perennial favorite Southwest came in third.

Spirit Airlines had the largest improvement in its AQR score in 2018, but that rally only lifted the airline from the bottom spot to third worst. Of course, not every airline improved. Frontier Airlines had the largest decline in its AQR score for 2018, sinking it to the bottom rung. Alaska Airlines, which topped the list last year, slipped to the number four spot, in part because of the merger between Alaska and Virgin America, with the results reflecting the performance of the merged airlines for the entire year.

  1. Delta Airlines
  2. JetBlue
  3. Southwest Airlines
  4. Alaska Airlines
  5. Hawaiian Airlines
  6. United Airlines
  7. Spirit Airlines
  8. American Airlines
  9. Frontier Airlines

You can check out the full report here.


About the author

Melissa Locker is a writer and world renowned fish telepathist.


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