Delta is top carrier, JetBlue worst in WSJ Airline Rankings
The Wall Street Journal recently released its annual rankings for the best and worst airlines in America
The Wall Street Journal comes out with its list of top U.S. airlines every January retrospectively looking at the previous year’s performance of our national carriers. In its 2022 iteration Delta ranked first for the second consecutive year among nine U.S. carriers on the WSJ’s scorecard.
It’s the fifth time in the past six years the Atlanta-based airline has taken the top spot. Alaska Airlines was a repeat runner-up, followed by Southwest Airlines in third place despite the well-documented holiday meltdown that occurred a few weeks ago.
Budget-minded Spirit and Frontier finished slightly ahead of JetBlue, who brought up the rear in ninth-place1.
Airlines are ranked by seven equally weighted metrics, per the WSJ; this includes on-time arrivals, delays, flight cancellations, complaints, baggage handling and involuntary bumping.
Overall, 2022 was one of the toughest in recent memory for passengers. Airlines had to rebuild their flight networks after severe cuts during the pandemic, and had to deal with unprecedented demand coming off a couple down years, as well as bad weather and staffing shortages at all levels of their organizations.
Delta retained its crown by mitigating these factors better than others, but experienced a bit of decline in service from a year ago. The airline took the top spot in three of the seven categories, down from five in 2021, according to the Journal.
I didn’t fly Delta this past year, but my best experience of 2022 was a November flight to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines. It felt like the commercial flying gods were with us that day because we arrived early, had a merely one-third full plane and were treated to spectacular views as we landed on Maui (see above for evidence). The experience on Alaska was a good one — not something all fliers on competing airlines in 2022 can say.
I typically fly United as I do a lot of travel between two of its hubs — San Francisco and Chicago. Because there are so many daily flights between SFO And ORD I find the service gets me in on time rather often, anecdotally corroborating the airline’s third place finish in the on-time arrival category. It certainly had its share of problems though, evidenced by its eighth-place showing in the amount of 2-hour tarmac delays (O’Hare is known for this so I’m not surprised).
You do have to feel for JetBlue a bit. The New York-based carrier finished last for the second straight year due to its relatively poor numbers in nearly every category. Company executives pointed to its heavy focus on flights in and out of metro areas of the northeast, which indeed is a very congested region.
On the bright side though JetBlue is know for its in-flight amenities like free Wi-Fi, DirecTV, having the best domestic business class and good snacks, thus has a solid reputation in this regard. Given this I added amenities into the rankings and computed the average rankings with and without this category as I felt it’s an important one to consider. Unfortunately, JetBlue’s top showing in the category didn’t do much for its overall ranking though.
Happy travels in 2023. May your flight, baggage and sanity arrive on time to wherever you may be traveling.
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