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Alaska Airlines Ranked Highest In 2018 Airline Quality Rating

Dushan Hanuska
Flickr, Creative Commons

Alaska Airlines had the highest ranking in a new report released Monday.

The 2018 Airline Quality Rating looks at denied boardings, delayed flights, mishandled luggage and consumer complaints to the Department of Transportation, which gathered the data used in the report.

The report is a joint research project between Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on its 28th year.

Overall, airline quality has improved by most measures, despite a year of negative publicity for the industry.

It was one year ago a man was dragged off a United Airlines flight. The incident went viral when a video was posted online. 2017 also saw computer glitches, flights denied over leggings and a battle over a stroller.

Dean Headley, an associate professor at WSU who co-authored the report, says incidents like this have likely happened in previous years, but they didn’t grab headlines because they weren’t recorded.

“Nobody had their camera out,” Headley said. “That makes a big difference.”

Over the last year, airlines made significant improvements avoiding overbooked flights.

"They took the denied boarding rate and cut it in half,” Headley said.

Mishandled luggage rates also improved.

The bad news: more flights arriving late. About one out of every five flights last year arrived behind schedule. But this was only a slight dip of about one percentage point from 2016.

Delta Air Lines came in a close second behind Alaska Airlines. Spirit came in last, having the worse ratings of consumer complaints and involuntary denied boardings, but the airline did perform best when it came to handling luggage.

Here are the complete rankings:

1. Alaska

2. Delta

3. JetBlue

4. Hawaiian

5. Southwest

6. SkyWest

7. Virgin America

8. United

9. American

10. ExpressJet

11. Frontier

12. Spirit


Stephan Bisaha reports on education for KMUW in Wichita and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio, KCUR and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. Follow him on Twitter@SteveBisaha. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to the original post.