Best and Worst Airlines in America

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

Whether you're an occasional flyer or you make Kim and Kanye look like homebodies with your jet setting ways, chances are, when you fly you want to go with the best airline you can afford.

Flying isn't something you want to get too cheap with because budget airlines sometimes sneak in fees, and, when it comes to flying, more expensive doesn't always mean better. Brand name recognition doesn't always mean the best, either. Here are our picks for the airlines to embrace and which ones to use with caution.

Each airline has its own strengths. Focus on what you want, and decide upon your airline from there.

Best: Southwest Airlines

Southwest is one of the best airlines in many different ways. Customer service is a priority with this airline, and it shows. It doesn't matter who you are or how much you spend, you're going to be treated the same as the person sitting next to you.

When it comes to cold, hard cash, there are fewer hidden costs, such as change fees and baggage fees. You don't have to be as concerned about costs when you read the fine print. Your bags fly free with Southwest, and that hasn't changed as other airlines have increased their prices. You can still take two bags with you for free.

You won't get some of the fanciness with this airline you might with others, but it does have creature comforts like Wi-Fi while flying.

Worst: Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaii may enjoy a great reputation as paradise, but Hawaiian Airlines? Not so much. It does have its good points, such as its ability to stay on time. That's a major plus, of course, because staying on time is a big deal when you have a busy itinerary.

However, when people are selecting airlines, one of the key factors they look at is affordability. Hawaiian Airlines is pricier than other airlines, and when it comes to the routes you can book, Hawaiian doesn't have much of a selection compared to some of the competition.

Best: Alaska Airlines

With a friendly staff and comfortable seats, there's a lot to love about Alaska Airlines.

It has grown in size in recent years, purchasing Virgin America in 2016. With more than 100 destinations you can fly to throughout the U.S. and abroad, this airline tops many lists because of its attention to the small details, like the beverages it serves, the comfy seats we mentioned, and the relaxed atmosphere. It also gets the big details right with its consistency and the value of its frequent flyer program.

Worst: Spirit Airlines

There are some good things about Spirit Airlines. It doesn't lose luggage as often as some other airlines seem to, which is always a good thing, and if you're solely focused on finding a cheap flight, you might be happy that Spirit has some competitive prices. The negatives outweigh the positives, though.

The customer service you'll find with this airline leaves a lot to be desired, and if you're looking for comfort, you'll be better off with another airline. It also can gouge you on baggage and change fees, so you'll want to be aware of that before booking.

Best: Delta Airlines

When you're looking at great airlines, don't forget about Delta. As the second largest U.S. airline when it comes to the sheer number of passengers transported, Delta Airlines gets a pat on the back for its smooth rides and great lounges.

Where it really shines is sticking to its flight schedule — you stand a good chance of arriving at your destination on time and finding your bag hasn't been shipped elsewhere. They score high marks for making sure luggage isn't lost.

This airline also has a large list of routes to choose from, touching down in more than 60 countries.

Worst: United Airlines

United Airlines has some great planes in its fleet. The biggest gripe many customers have is the scheduling issues this airline has. It has a tendency to overbook flights, which is never a good thing from a customer's standpoint. You can seemingly plan on being delayed, too, while traveling with United.

While no airline can control certain factors, like the weather, they do control how they respond to those circumstances, and the lack of communication United is known for is one of the reasons United finds itself on the naughty list.

Best: JetBlue Airlines

The lounges aren't great, your flights may not arrive on time, but you'll be comfortable while you're in the sky, which is one of the reasons JetBlue makes the best list.

The seats are cushy, and you have access to 10-inch seat-back screens, which some airlines have done away with. If you have work to do on your flight that requires an internet connection, JetBlue is a great option. It offers a free internet connection with real speed.

Plus, if you have the munchies, you can take advantage of the free snacks. All these perks can make for a wonderful journey.

Worst: Frontier Airlines

First, let's start with the good thing about Frontier — it does have cheap flights. The bad news is a lot of those cheap options are to places you might not want to go to. Plus, they will get you on the little things, like hidden costs for things you would ordinarily expect to be included, such as carry-ons.

With its lackluster lounges, frequent delays in flights, and less-than-friendly customer service, Frontier earns its spot on this worst list. While every airline can hit a snag once in a while in some way, Frontier seems to have a lot of them.

Consider What Matters To You

Before booking a flight, figure out what is most important to you. Is it saving as much money as possible so you can afford to go to places you've only dreamed of seeing, or is it about feeling well cared for while you're in the sky? Is poor customer service a deal breaker for you?

Each airline has its own strengths. Focus on what you want, and decide upon your airline from there.