The Best and Worst Airlines In The U.S.

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Flight delays, cancellations, lost baggage and complaints all increased last year. According to the Wall Street Journal and Middle Seat’s annual scorecard of airline service, tracking seven different key measures of airline performance, Alaska Airlines performed the best in 2014 among major carriers. At the top of the rankings with Alaska were Delta and Virgin American, which for the past two years has posted far better operational results than big competitors.

The worst big U.S. airlines were American and United. For the fourth time in as many years, United Airlines was last on the list. In fact, United ranked last or next-to-last among eight airlines in all seven categories.

The rankings of the eight biggest U.S. carriers were based on data from flight-tracking services masFlight and FlightStats, evaluated across seven different categories: on-time arrivals, canceled flights, extreme delays, two-hour tarmac delays, mishandled baggage, involuntary bumping, and complaints filed to the Department of Transportation.

Helping Alaska nab the number one spot was its investment in satellite-based technology that helps it keep flying in fog and other bad weather in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Alaska’s customer surveys onboard planes helped reduce DOT complaints and a 20-minute delivery-time guarantee on getting bags to carousels has forced improved baggage handling, reports WSJ.

Meantime, Virgin America credits in part a generous employee-incentive program that offers a 3% bonus for high scores in three areas: customer-satisfaction surveys, aircraft operations and safety and on-time performance.

Here’s the overall ranking of U.S. airlines from best to worst:

1. Alaska Airlines

Headquarters: SeaTac, WA

2. Virgin America

Headquarters: Burlingame, CA

3. Delta

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

4. JetBlue

Headquarters: Long Island City, N.Y.

5. Southwest

Headquarters: Dallas, TX

6. Frontier Airlines

Headquarters: Denver, CO

7. American Airlines

Headquarters: Fort Worth, TX

8. United Airlines

Headquarters: Chicago, IL