PR Newswire ·  Jun 12 20:00

Delta Air Lines Tops Annual Report For Sixth Consecutive Year

NEW YORK, June 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, The Points Guy (TPG), the media platform focused on maximizing travel experiences while minimizing spending, released its eighth annual Best Airlines Report. Delta Air Lines was named best airline in America for the sixth year in a row based on its reliability, experience, cost, reach, and loyalty offerings. The Points Guy uses a weighted formula to evaluate objective data covering every aspect of a traveler's journey with the airline, from the booking process to baggage delivery, as well as the system for earning and redeeming rewards for future trips.

The top four carriers - Delta, Alaska, United and American - were close in ranking, but Delta ultimately pulled ahead due to high scores in timeliness and involuntary bumps.

At the bottom of the list, Spirit and Frontier received the worst rankings, with areas like timeliness, cancellations, customer satisfaction, and bag/change fees coming in significantly lower than their competitors.

"Delta once again topped the Best Airlines report, proving that consistency is key for travelers as they take to the skies in record numbers," said Brian Kelly, Founder of The Points Guy. "We understand that a traveler's airline choice is a personal decision based on how they like to fly. That's why we created this resource to help readers understand where different airlines excel and fall short, so they can make informed decisions."

Best Airlines Report for 2024 rankings are highlighted below:

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

Standout takeaways include:

  • Delta wins for the sixth year in a row: The Atlanta-based carrier was the top-ranking airline once again. Interestingly, it was only the top-performing airline in a single category: Timeliness (it also tied with Allegiant for top in Involuntary Bumps). But Delta's consistent performance across all of the categories — aside from Affordability — made it the top pick overall.
  • Consumer complaint data doesn't tell the whole story: The Department of Transportation typically reports data covering a variety of metrics on a three-month delay. The agency delayed reporting of customer complaints in the middle of the year, however, in order to rework how it processes them, because the volume of complaints has increased compared to pre-pandemic. Data was only available through May 2023, so the Customer Satisfaction score does not reflect passengers' experiences during the latter part of the year, including the busy summer and holiday travel seasons.
  • Some airlines performed better than on the 2023 report, while others fell: Several airlines fell a point or two or more compared to last year, including Delta (-0.57), United (-1.57), Hawaiian (-5.80), Spirit (-4.44) and Frontier (-5.39). Other carriers made gains, however, including Alaska (+3.84), American (+1.01), Southwest (+2.25), JetBlue (+1.70) and Allegiant (+6.32).
  • Loyalty Programs are in close competition: Evaluated by their frequent flyer programs and award availability, the United Airlines, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines ranked closely. This year, Chicago-based United Airlines beat the rest in terms of rewarding frequent flyers, with the greatest number of redemption and earning partners and four choices of consumer credit cards. Delta, last year's runner-up, fell to fourth as low-cost carriers also struggled in this category.

Report methodology:

To compile these rankings, TPG does a deep analysis across the reliability, experience, loyalty programs, and cost & reach for each airline. TPG examines data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (D.O.T.), including passenger complaints filed with the D.O.T., as well as lost luggage reports for each airline and operational data. Additionally, in examining the airlines' financials and combing through publicly available fleet data, the experts at TPG were able to factor all those elements — and more — into the rankings for 2024's best airlines report.

For all criteria, the raw scores from the data were converted into a scaled score from 0 to 10 and then weighted using the following percentages to arrive at the final score. This ensured that the calculation for each airline's score was made relative to the performance of others — as opposed to a simple ranking system that wouldn't accurately capture these differences.

The full list of factors and weighting was as follows:

Reliability (30%)

  • Timeliness (using data on delayed flights from the D.O.T.).
  • Cancellations (using data on canceled flights from the D.O.T.).
  • Involuntary bumps (using data on involuntary denied boardings from the D.O.T.).
  • Baggage (using data on mishandled baggage from the D.O.T.).
  • Wheelchairs/scooters (using data on mishandled baggage from the D.O.T.).

Experience (25%)

  • Cabin features (using data from SeatGuru and inflight amenity offerings from each carrier's website).
  • Lounges (using data on the number of lounges, number of cities and price of membership for each applicable lounge network).
  • Family (using a 0-to-5 score based on boarding, perks and food/entertainment available on board).
  • Customer satisfaction (using data on customer complaints from the DOT). Due to a reporting delay as the Department of Transportation changes its methodology for tracking complaints, this information is only available for the five-month period between Jan. 1 and May 31, 2023.

Costs and reach (20%)

  • Route network (using the monthly average of domestic cities served by each airline from the DOT).
  • Affordability (using financial data from the BTS).
  • Bag/change fees (using financial data from the BTS).

Loyalty (25%)

  • Frequent flier (using data from our monthly valuations, elite status reports and each carrier's website).
  • Award availability (using real-time award inventory for popular domestic routes across three distinct time periods).

For a year-over-year comparison, TPG's 2023 Best Airlines Report can be viewed here.

About The Points Guy
The Points Guy (TPG) is a trusted travel media platform that focuses on maximizing travel experiences while minimizing spending. Through an informative, clever point of view, TPG has become the leading online site for all things points, miles and resourceful travel experiences. The site's editorial content, newsletter and app consists of firsthand flight, hotel and airplane reviews, curated travel guides and immersive video components, as well as global event activations. Since its launch in 2010, founder Brian Kelly has expanded the team to include a distinguished editorial staff and extensive network of freelancers around the globe. Today, TPG reaches 11 million unique monthly visitors and more than 4.4 million followers across social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, X and TikTok).

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SOURCE The Points Guy

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