The best and worst airlines survey finds a new champ and new loser

The Points Guy released its 2019 Best Airlines Annual Report on March 19, 2019.
The Points Guy released its 2019 Best Airlines Annual Report on March 19, 2019. The Points Guy

Delta Airlines is the best airline in the country.

So says The Points Guy, an aviation points and rewards site, in its 2019 Best Airlines Annual Report.

The Points Guy ranked the Atlanta-based Delta its top among airlines because it found that nearly 93 percent of its planes arrived on time and gave it props for its vast network of lounges and cities served and its record of not bumping passengers from its flights.

According to the group’s third annual survey, Delta only bumped 32 passengers out of more than 136 million Delta fliers.

All of these accolades helped Delta rise two spots to dethrone two-time champ Alaska Airlines. Delta has been the most improved airline since The Points Guy released its first report in 2017 when Delta ranked No. 7.

But Alaska Airlines, No. 2 this year in the rankings, still earned praise from The Points Guy for its loyalty program “because it offered the best value and good perks for all three tiers of membership.”

The Points Guy came up with its rankings by looking at criteria like customer satisfaction, cabin comfort, timeliness, lost baggage and lounges. New categories like cancellations, bumps and revenue passenger miles, such as use of airline passenger tickets/miles and frequent flier programs, were added this year, Brian Kelly, CEO and Points Guy founder said in a release.

These are the criteria The Points Guy looks at when compiling its annual Best Airlines reports. Some categories are new for the 2019 survey. The Points Guy

“It’s been a milestone year for aviation in America, and this report directly reflects the changes in the industry and consumer preferences with shake-ups in our top rankings,” said Kelly.

Other big winners included Southwest Airlines at No. 3, which, though it fell a notch due to Delta’s rise, still had the best customer service. “They had only 602 complaints despite flying more domestic passengers than any other airline,” the survey said.

Hawaiian Airlines notched the biggest bump up the Top 10 chart, rising four positions to No. 5 due to its record for sending flights off on time — the best of the bunch, according to The Points Guy. Only 6.4 percent of Hawaiian’s flights were delayed for 30 or fewer minutes. This is well below the average of 15.6 percent for the 10 airlines overall and the 24.6 percent for the lowest-ranked airline, the Denver-based Frontier.

Frontier Airlines fell five positions because of a poor on-time record (nearly one out of every four flights was delayed, the survey said) and Frontier, Spirt and Allegiant’s on board offerings were deemed the weakest.

On Feb. 7, 2019, Ted Christie, president and CEO of Spirit Airlines, was photographed at the company’s corporate headquarters. Spirit has turned around its departure and arrivals time rankings from the bottom to near the top. Carl Juste

Miramar-based Spirit Airlines didn’t fare as well in the 2019 survey. Spirit fell two notches to No. 9, docked for “the stingiest” 28-inch average seat pitch of all the airlines. But Spirit had the best ratio of fare cost per mile flown for paying passengers. And recent changes in Spirit’s leadership could have the airline soaring higher on the 2020 survey.

In October 2018, Spirit ranked No. 1 for on-time performance, according to the Department of Transportation and just 11 percent of its passengers arrived late.

Here’s the 2019 rankings and how they compared to the 2018 Points Guy survey:

1. Delta (up two)

2. Alaska (down one)

3. Southwest (down one)

4. United (steady)

5. Hawaiian (up four)

6. American (steady)

7. JetBlue (up one)

8. Allegiant (steady)

9. Spirit (down two)

10. Frontier (down five).

The Top 10 airlines according to The Points Guy’s 2019 survey. The Points Guy

When planning your travel, don't wing it! Check out the airlines that ranked the highest on WalletHub's 2017 report of the best airlines in the industry.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
Support my work with a digital subscription