The Best Airlines of 2017, According to Brand-New Rankings

airplaneMangpink/ShutterstockFlying the friendly skies has been, well, not quite as friendly these days. If you’re looking not just for the best prices, most convenient times and most direct routes, but also for an airline that will treat you right (and ahem, won’t drag you off of an overbooked aircraft), you’ll want to check these latest rankings.

We got our hands on the 2017 Airline Satisfaction Study, released this month, from J.D. Power North America, a global research firm. Here’s what they discovered about the best airlines you can pick for your next getaway to avoid hiccups and enjoy the ride:

  • Alaska Airlines takes home the top honor, for the 10th time. Flying anywhere and Alaska Airlines is an option? Jump on that deal! Why? For the past decade, they’ve ranked the highest among traditional carriers, with an index of score of 765 on a 1,000-point scale. Delta took home the silver but only with a seven-point gap from it’s contender Alaska Airlines; American Airlines came in for the bronze.
  • For budget airlines, Southwest is the best. Since the research was divided into segments, Southwest got an honor of it’s own in the “low-cost carrier” segment, beating JetBlue Airways by four points. This small margin is significant, since Southwest officially ends JetBlue Airways’ 11-year streak winning this category.

The full list of the top 10 airlines, both in traditional carriers and the budget ones are below:

Best airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Air Canada

Best low-cost airlines:

  • Southwest Airlines
  • Jetblue Airways
  • WestJet
  • Frontier Airlines

Even though flight delays, re-routes, layovers, and overbooking issues can be a pain for those trying to get from point A to point B, or from their hometown to Hawaii, researchers found that overall, passengers are satisfied. In fact, since 2012, the overall satisfaction index score has gone up by 75 points. These are the 13 things airlines won’t tell you.

One of the biggest contributors to this improvement, the study notes, is due to a huge leap in customer satisfaction with airline cost and fees. Year over year, this score rose by 35 points, making it the highest it’s been in the past 10 years. Maybe that’s a signal to airlines to keep up those flash sales? We sure hope so—we have passport stamps to collect!

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