The Best Airlines for 2021, See If Your Favorite Carrier Made the List

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Best Airlines for 2021

Airfare costs dropped sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are starting to rise again with the average leisure fare at $187 as of mid-March. But cost is not the only thing matters when picking what airline to fly with.

As travel bounces back, this is a good time to take a look at the best airlines in the country, to help you decide which one is best for you. WalletHub has done just that, comparing the 9 largest U.S. airlines, plus two regional carriers, across 17 important metrics. The criteria ranges from cancellation and delay rates to baggage mishaps and in-flight comfort. Cost is obviously included as well.

Key Findings

  • Best Overall – Alaska Airlines earned the highest overall WalletHub Score (56.54) for the third year in a row, followed by Delta Air Lines (55.98).
  • Most Reliable – Southwest Airlines has the lowest overall rate of cancellations, delays, mishandled luggage and denied boarding. The next most reliable company is United Airlines.
  • Safety – Alaska Airlines is the safest, with a low number of incidents and accidents per 100,000 flight operations, no fatalities and fewer than 15 people injured between 2014 and 2019. Alaska Airlines also has a relatively new fleet of aircrafts. The safety runner-up is Envoy Air.
  • Most Pet-Friendly – Three airlines tied for being most pet-friendly – Alaska Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Envoy Air – with no incidents.
  • Most Comfortable – JetBlue Airways leads the pack in terms of in-flight experience, offering free amenities such as Wi-Fi, extra legroom, and complimentary snacks and beverages. Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines & Delta Air Lines are tied for the second position for this category.

Detailed Scores

The tables below illustrate the number of points that each airline received based on the scoring system defined in the methodology.

Metric Max Score American Airlines Delta Air Lines Southwest Airlines United Airlines JetBlue Airways Frontier Airlines Hawaiian Airlines Alaska Airlines Spirit Airlines
Cancelled Flights 6.00 4.63 1.28 3.24 5.29 1.55 0.88 4.20 0.00 4.98
Delays 17.00 3.20 7.38 9.24 6.53 0.00 2.89 3.85 4.40 5.54
Mishandled Baggage Reports 7.00 2.37 4.53 4.39 4.05 5.17 5.40 4.66 3.43 5.46
Denied Boardings 11.00 7.36 11.00 9.92 10.89 10.97 6.53 10.94 10.53 9.28
Complaints 9.00 3.69 4.99 7.67 0.00 2.30 0.00 0.00 3.64 3.35
Animal Related Incidents 5.00 3.66 1.72 N/A 1.95 N/A N/A 0.00 5.00 N/A
Leg Room 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00 0.00 2.00 2.00 0.00
Entertainment Options 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.00 1.00 1.00 0.00
Wi-Fi Availability 1.00 0.50 0.63 0.63 0.50 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.63 0.50
Complimentary Refreshments 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 0.00 1.00 1.00 0.00
Price 10.00 1.10 2.62 3.58 1.59 3.40 8.78 3.39 4.36 9.18
Aviation Incidents & Accidents 6.00 3.23 3.23 4.08 0.91 3.78 0.00 3.02 3.80 3.92
Fatal Injuries in Aviation Accidents 6.00 6.00 6.00 0.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00
Injuries in Aviation Incidents & Accidents 6.00 0.00 0.60 0.00 0.00 0.60 0.75 0.75 0.75 0.75
Blocked Middle Seats Policy 4.00 0.00 4.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.00 0.00
Face Masks Availability 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 0.00 0.00 4.00 4.00 0.00
Fleet Age 4.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00
Final Score 100.00 43.73 55.98 53.43 45.70 40.82 37.09 48.81 56.54 55.76

See the full report here.

DDG
Based in NYC. Points/miles enthusiast for years and actively writing about it for the last two years at Danny the Deal Guru. I'm always looking out for deals. Making a few bucks is always nice, but the traveling is by far the best part of this business.

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