2016 Top Quality Rankings for Airlines, Virgin America Ranks #1

November 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

For the past 26 years, Dean Headley, a researcher at Wichita State University’s business school, and Brent Bowen, Dean of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, have co-authored the Airline Quality Report, a quality ranking of the largest 13 airlines in the United States.

The report uses performance data gathered from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s monthly Air Travel Consumer Report to determine the intersection of public perception of each airline’s quality with the airline’s actual performance.

Virgin Airline's Molly

This year, Virgin America Airlines earned the top spot for the fourth year in a row. JetBlue jumped from fourth to second place, and Delta retained its third place position. The report examines performance in four categories: on-time performance, baggage handling, involuntary denied boardings, and customer complaints.

This report is an objective way for consumers to determine an airline’s overall performance and to examine its attention to whatever detail of the flying experience is important to them. The report found that overall performance for the industry as a whole improved over 2015, while the category that saw the most change was complaints.

“This is the worst complaints have been for 15 years, as a rate. The last time it got this high was in 2001,” Headley told CNN. Alaska Airlines had the best score with point-5 complaints per 100,000 passengers, and was one of six airlines to have less than 1 complaint per 100,000 passengers.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time record, and, in addition to earning the top spot overall, Virgin Airlines scored best in baggage handling. Travelpro congratulates the winners and appreciates the efforts of all to provide ever-improving performance.

How did your airline fare? Do rankings like these help you decide which airline you’ll fly? Or are you loyal to your favorite airline? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Peter Russell (Flickr, Creative Commons)

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Matt Sill

Matt Sill is the Marketing Product Manager for Travelpro Products, creators of the original Rollaboard luggage, carry-on luggage, and suitcases.

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