Delta is the best airline in the US for 2023 according to The Points Guy's annual ranking. See the full list.
- Delta Air Lines has once again topped The Points Guy's annual ranking of US carriers.
- The 2023 list factored in things like reliability, mishandled baggage, and the passenger experience.
Travel website The Points Guy released its annual list of best US carriers on Wednesday — and Delta Air Lines can keep its crown.
The Atlanta-based carrier has topped TPG's list for five years running, consistently scoring high in categories including reliability, customer experience, network, and loyalty. The carrier lost out to Hawaiian Airlines for cancellations and United Airlines for award travel availability, but its only significant downfall was affordability due to its high fares.
According to TPG, evaluating a large range of factors — which are based on a 12-month period from January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022 — creates a clearer picture of the passenger journey for each airline because it looks at everything from bag drop and boarding to booking flights with points.
TPG said it also takes into account US Department of Transportation data for mishandled baggage and customer complaints.
Also scoring high are Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines, which all maintained their top five positions this year. And, although the carriers still didn't beat out Delta, TPG said the trio is bridging the gap: "It's worth noting that Delta's overall score dropped by nearly 6% over last year, and its three closest rivals … all scored higher this year."
However, American may have a tough road ahead after losing a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice over its controversial Northeast Alliance with JetBlue Airways. The duo has 30 days to dismantle their partnership — which is likely to impact customers as summer tickets have already been sold.
Meanwhile, Southwest is still crawling its way back after it's December meltdown that caused thousands of flight cancellations and stranded angry customers. This resulted in the Dallas-based carrier falling from second in TPG's 2022 rankings to fifth this year — the biggest drop of any US airline.
But, the airline makes up for its faults with two free checked bags and no change or cancelation fees. The carrier only charges $0.43 per person on average in add-on bag fees — that compares to Frontier Airlines' $43.81 average cost.
In fact, the extra charge is one reason Frontier has found itself at the bottom of TPG's 2023 list. The carrier lost points due to its no-frills cabin and 6,000 involuntarily bumps in 2022, but the outlet noted it is still the second-most affordable carrier in the US behind Spirit Airlines.
However, Spirit — as well as every single other carrier on the list — has increased operational costs from 2021 to 2022, causing an uptick in fares across the board. Airlines have blamed high ticket prices on rising oil costs, inflation, and skyrocketing post-pandemic demand.
Overall, TPG says airlines performed worse in 2022 than in 2021, noting customer complaints are up 87.6%, fares per 1,000 passenger miles are up 22.67%, involuntary bumps are up 87.45%, the rate of mishandled bags is up 25%, and cancellations are up 54%.
"All of [these] demonstrate the ongoing struggle to meet the high demand for air travel," TPG said.
Allegiant Air and JetBlue were two of the US' worst offenders for cancelations, but the latter managed to keep its sixth-place finish thanks to its amenity-heavy cabin, which features inflight TVs and free WiFi.
Meanwhile, Hawaiian was the best airline for cancelations, having canceled less than 1% of its scheduled flights in 2022, per TPG. However, the carrier lacks a robust network mostly due to its isolated geographic location in the South Pacific.
In terms of baggage handling, American had the worst rate, with TPG saying passengers are five-and-a-half times more likely to lose their luggage on American than on low-cost carrier Allegiant.
Take a closer look at TPG's airline rankings for 2023 and how they performed based on a 100-point scale.
10. Frontier Airlines
Overall Score: 27.74
2022 Ranking: 8
9. Allegiant Air
Overall Score: 37.03
2022 Ranking: 9
8. Spirit Airlines
Overall Score: 38.99
2022 Ranking: 10
7. JetBlue Airways
Overall Score: 47.68
2022 Ranking: 7
6. Hawaiian Airlines
Overall Score: 54.71
2022 Ranking: 6
5. Southwest Airlines
Overall Score: 56.29
2022 Ranking: 2
4. American Airlines
Overall Score: 59.83
2022 Ranking: 4
3. Alaska Airlines
Overall Score: 60.54
2022 Ranking: 5
2. United Airlines
Overall Score: 62.47
2022 Ranking: 3
1. Delta Air Lines
Overall Score: 66.31
2022 Ranking: 1
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