The Top 5 Domestic U.S. Airlines, According to Travel & Leisure
Travel + Leisure readers say these five U.S.-based companies make flying the most enjoyable. JetBlue, Southwest, and Alaska airlines all make the list.
Much like plane seating preferences — window seats are for sound sleeping, aisles for easy restroom access — airline allegiances are carefully calculated. For Travel + Leisure readers, everything from bag fees to flight attendant interactions make some airlines significantly more appealing than others.
Every year for their World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. In the airlines category, readers rated carriers on cabin comfort, service, food, customer service, and value.
Absent from the list of best domestic airlines last year, but solidly No. 5 this year, is Delta. “For U.S.-based airlines, Delta is the king,” one reader wrote. “Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Southern hospitality is woven into the fabric of this airline.” The airline launched a new initiative in May called “Reclaim Your Status,” which allows Delta Medallion passengers to notify the company of life circumstances that have affected their travel plans, such as becoming a new parent, getting a new job, or contracting an illness, and keep their frequent flier tier. It’s meant to inject more empathy into travel, according to the CEO of Delta Vacations.
Readers consistently praised Hawaiian Airlines (No. 4) for offering the best flying experience — ever. “The best first-class experience we've ever had, with authentic Ohana attitude service, and true Aloha,” one reader chimed in. Southwest, meanwhile, at No. 3, was commended for being bargain-friendly. No bag fees are a huge plus for many, as is the airline’s attentiveness to anxious fliers. The same was said about Alaska Airlines (No. 2), which was described with words like consistent and reliable. “I have never met an unfriendly Alaska Airlines flight attendant,” someone declared.
Wondering what No. 1 could be? Read on to find out and peruse the full list of the top domestic airlines.
5. Delta Air Lines
More information: delta.com
4. Hawaiian Airlines
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 76.90
More information: hawaiianairlines.com
3. Southwest Airlines
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 78.17
More information: southwest.com
2. Alaska Airlines
More information: alaskaair.com
1. JetBlue Airways
WBA Hall of Fame honoree. Score: 79.72
More information: jetblue.com
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Securing the No. 2 spot for ten years in a row, JetBlue jumped ahead to No. 1 this year as the company continues to grow. In addition to a slew of new routes — JetBlue announced in April that it will launch flights to London in 2021, its first foray into Europe — the airline has also committed to revamping the look and feel of its cabins over the next year. Many T+L readers are already fans of JetBlue’s onboard experience, explaining they offer the best cabin space for tall people. Others applaud the overall smooth flying experience, from check-in to landing. “Never disappointed in JetBlue; love their employees and flight staff, their planes and everything,” one reader wrote. “In this day and age where air travel is so stressful, they continue to be the best in the air and on the ground!”
See all of their readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2019.