Alaska Airlines was named the top airline in terms of quality in the latest Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Virgin America, which recently merged with Alaska Airlines and had spent four years in the top spot, slipped to third. Delta came in at a close second. The results were released at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
A joint research project funded as part of faculty research activities by Dr. Dean Headley at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent Bowen at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Prescott, AZ, campus, the most recent AQR also showed that industry performance improved in all four core elements tracked by the study: on-time performance, rate of involuntary denied boardings, rate of mishandled bags and the rate of customer complaints.
Nine of the 12 airlines improved in three categories (on-time, baggage handling and customer complaints), and seven of the 12 airlines improved in all four categories. Airlines that performed better in 2016 were Alaska, American, Delta, ExpressJet, Frontier, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit and United. Those whose scores declined in 2016 were Hawaiian, JetBlue and Virgin America.
Below is the 2016 numerical ranking of the nation's leading 12 airlines, according to the Airline Quality Rating, with the 2015 ranking in parentheses:
- Alaska (5)
- Delta (3)
- Virgin America (1)
- JetBlue (2)
- Hawaiian (4)
- Southwest (6)
- SkyWest (7)
- United (8)
- American (10)
- ExpressJet (9)
- Spirit (13)
- Frontier (11)
NOTE: The 2015 rating included 13 airlines. Envoy is not rated in 2016.