The Airline with the Worst Reputation in America

Keep this in mind when you book your next flight.

Flying can be a hassle: Shrinking seats, delayed departures, and confusing terminals come together to make travel days less of an adventure and more of a headache. Sometimes with insider secrets, like these 13 things airlines won’t tell you, you can avoid problems, but you’ll also want to make sure you’re flying with the right airline. As with any industry, the company you do business with can make all the difference.

Fortunately for all frequent fliers, the annual Harris Poll reputation quotient made a list of the best and—and worst—extremely visible companies of 2020. The poll ranks the reputations of various companies, including airlines. To make the list, a company has to be well-known and highly visible in society. The study then measures and evaluates these companies based on six things: vision and leadership, social responsibility, products and services, emotional appeal, workplace environment, and financial performance.

For the most recent poll, the highest-ranking airline was Southwest Airlines while United Airlines came in last.

United Airlines’ reputation quotient was 66.7, landing it 11th from the bottom of the entire list of 100 companies. In comparison, Southwest’s quotient was 74.4 and landed it at #48 in total. Although these numbers are telling, they factor in more than what affects day-to-day customers.

Another ranking that focused solely on airlines placed Southwest as the third-best airline overall (Delta was its top choice). Southwest’s high ranking on both lists could be thanks to this year’s lower fares and an increase in the size of its route network. Or, in the wake of a pandemic, Southwest’s flexible rebooking policy and amped up safety measures. The airline won points for its non-existent baggage and change fees, too. When you want smooth travel, you’ll also want to find out which 11 airlines are least likely to lose or damage your bag.

Last year’s worst ranking airline, Spirit Airlines, likely ranked so low because of their overpriced checked and carry-on bag fees, having seats that don’t recline, no complimentary drinks, and the fact that they are constantly canceling and delaying flights which can sometimes cause altercations in the airport. This year, however, Spirit did not even make the rankings, likely falling out of visibility slightly due to COVID concerns and branding complications. Whatever airline you decide to book with, the flight attendants will hope you avoid these 18 things you should never do on an airplane.

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.