Delta took the No. 1 spot in the 29th annual Airline Quality Rating study, which was released on Monday.
The report measures U.S. airline service in four areas: on-time arrivals, percentage of bags mishandled, the number of passengers bumped from flights, and complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
It found carriers overall improved their performance compared to 2017. Complaints about airlines to the DOT dropped 23%, while the number of passengers bumped from oversold flights was cut in half.
Delta improved in all four categories – the only airline to do so – and rose to the top spot from second place in last year’s Airline Quality Rating. Other airlines that topped the list include JetBlue in second, followed by Southwest Airlines in third. Alaska, American, and Frontier all declined in each area, ranking fourth, eighth and ninth, respectively. Frontier came in last due to late flights and bumping passengers.
The study was conducted with research from W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.
"These results are very needed by the traveling public, given all the recent reports of airlines losing the confidence of key consumers," said Brent Bowen in a news release. Bowen is the AQR co-author and a professor of aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle’s Prescott campus. "Travelers can be confident that our airlines are improving."
The 2019 Airline Quality Rating, reflecting data collected in 2018, is: