Air Travel

Airline zeros and heroes of 2017

You’re staring at your computer screen, scratching your head, paralyzed with fear less you make the wrong decision. You have about five browser screens open, analyzing mountains of data, options, and numbers.

You’re searching for a flight, of course, and what should be an easy open-and shut booking can turn into hours of gut wrenching research, and then an even longer horrible flying experience if you choose long.

But travelers gotta travel, so today, we’ll bring you the latest rankings for the best and worst U.S. airlines in the industry according to a comprehensive Zogby Analytics poll published by 247Wall St.

Here are the airlines zeros and heroes of 2017:

1. Alaska Airlines
The award for the absolute best U.S. airline for 2017 goes to Alaska Airlines. But this lofty accolade is nothing new for AA, which also sat atop the airline mountain in 2016 as #1.

2. Southwest
While Alaska held onto its crown, Southwest took a huge leap forward in our hearts by lowering its airfares while expanding its fleet at the same time in 2017. That brought it all the way from #6 in the 2016 polls to #2 in 2017. Will Southwest be able to usurp Alaska for 2018?

3. Delta
Delta was definitely lagging in 2016’s polls at #7, but made a spirited comeback in 2017, lowering their airfares but also maintaining solid measures in on-time arrivals, lost baggage, and the scope of flights that were available.

4. United
United had a rocky year in 2017, dropping precipitously from its established #2 rank in 2016. But before we can really roast United as failing in its service, consider that the airline actually decreased customer complaints by 17% last year, and it’s drop had more to do with sterling years by Delta and Southwest, who moved up.

5. Frontier
Frontier is now sitting in the top-5 for best airlines in the U.S., a reason to celebrate for the smaller company that was all the way down the line at #9 last year. They cleaned up their baggage operations, expanded its network of routes, and held or improved in every other category – and its customers noticed!

6. American Airlines
Oh no! It’s a major black eye for a top-three major airline to sit behind Frontier, Alaska, and even Southwest on the list of best U.S. airlines. But American’ is getting used to it, as they sat at #5 last year and fell “only” one more spot in 2017. They can’t seem to arrive on-time, they lose baggage on par with third-world airlines, their customer service is abysmal, and they aren’t exactly cheap – not a glowing combination!

7. Spirit Airlines
Before you judge Spirit for sitting all the way back at #7 on this list, consider that they were #10 last year – the lowest of the top-10 that were rated. While they still have subpar customer satisfaction ratings, they are also offer cheapest ticket prices of U.S. airlines, and have measurably improved their baggage handling. But they still draw scorn for charging such high baggage fees!

Dishonorable mentions:
#8 Jet Blue fell all the way from #4 in 2016.
#9 Hawaiian Airlines is expensive like Hawaiian real estate prices!

Which airlines will move up and down this list of the best for 2018? Stay tuned!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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