When it comes to low-cost airlines, American fliers usually praise JetBlue and despise Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
But if you had taken to the skies in 2021, JetBlue might have let you down — with a host of brutal, hour-long delays and frustrating cancellations, according to a new study.
The Long Island City, New York-based airline recently dropped to the lowest place in The Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of US airlines, behind both Spirit and Frontier. American Airlines almost suffered a similar fate, joining Frontier for the third-to-last.
Delta Air Lines claimed the top spot on the list, followed by Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines.
The list, released on Jan. 28, ranked the nine largest U.S. airlines in seven categories based on their 2021 performance: on-time arrivals, canceled flights, extreme delays, waiting on the tarmac for more than two hours, mishandled baggage, passengers who involuntarily were bumped from flights and customer complaints.
It relies on data from the US Department of Transportation and aviation analysis software masFlight.
These are the general rankings:
1. Delta Air Lines
2. Alaska Airlines
3. Southwest Airlines
4. United Airlines
5. Allegiant Air
Draw-6. US Airlines
Draw-6. Frontier Airlines
8. Spirit Airlines
9. JetBlue Airways
The analysis found that JetBlue had the highest rate of extreme delays and incidents where passengers had to wait at least two hours on the tarmac. JetBlue also had the second least on-time arrivals, after only Allegiant Air, and the second most customer complaints after Spirit, according to the rankings.
It wasn’t all bad news for JetBlue: The carrier had the fourth fewest involuntary bumps and cancellations. JetBlue ended the year canceling about 1,280 flights from December 30 to January 13 following a spate of Covid-19 infections, but most of those cancellations were not included in the analysis, which was limited to 2021 data. .
Of course, JetBlue wasn’t alone in that regard: The wave of Covid’s omicron variant forced most airlines into widespread cancellations. The pandemic was also responsible for many flight delays in 2021, due to both crew availability and changed passenger travel plans.
Meanwhile, Delta recaptured the top spot in the rankings after dropping to second place a year earlier, when Southwest topped the list.
In the most recent edition, Delta claimed the top spot in five of the seven categories, with the most on-time arrivals, the fewest cancellations and extreme delays, and the fewest complaints. Delta passengers were also the least likely to be involuntarily bumped from a flight in 2021, according to the ranking.
Alaska Airlines recorded the fewest delays on the tarmac of more than two hours, and Allegiant Air was the least likely to mishandle passengers’ baggage. Delta came in third and fourth respectively in those two categories.
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