AirTran Airways, which was acquired by Southwest Airlines last year, provided travelers with the best flying experience for the second year in a row, according to the latest airline quality rating report from Wichita State University and Purdue University. The rankings are based on Department of Transportation data dealing with consumer complaints, lost bags, delays and oversold flights that bump off passengers.
The study found that AirTran provided customers with the highest-quality service, making it from departures to destinations with the least hassles. Hawaiian Airlines came in second and JetBlue Airways was ranked third. American Eagle was ranked last among the 15 largest air carriers in the report.
"Airlines are finally catching up with what their promise is, which is getting you there on time 80 percent of the time with your bags," said report co-writer Dean Headley. "They realize that people are paying a lot more money, and the system is more complex than it was, and they have to do a better job."
The study found low-cost carriers that fly primarily between large hubs are earning the most customer satisfaction and loyalty, said Headley. Large airlines are in the middle and smaller, regional airlines are at the bottom since they are most likely to be affected by weather delays.