WASHINGTON — Air travel is bouncing back, and with mask mandates finally ending on board commercial planes, it’s safe to say plenty of Americans will be looking to book a flight this summer. But which airline is the right choice for you, and which will leave you smiling when you touch down at your destination? A new survey has the answer and researchers say travelers heading for Hawaii and Alaska should expect a great trip in 2022!
The WalletHub study of the nation’s nine largest airlines, plus two regional carriers, names Delta Air Lines as the best airline this year. Delta scored the highest across the survey, which analyzed 16 different metrics including canceled flights, delays, luggage issues, comfort, price, and pet friendliness.
Specifically, Delta ranked as the “most reliable” airline, finishing with the lowest rate of cancelations, delays, mishandled luggage, and denied boardings. The airline also tied with SkyWest Airlines and Envoy Air as the best carrier if you’re traveling with a pet.
The time is right for faraway flights!
If you’re planning a trip outside the lower 48 states, you might want to consider one of America’s smaller airlines. Hawaiian Airlines finishes second this year on the list of the country’s best air carriers, with Alaska Airlines following in third.
Hawaiian scored 30.44 points for its reliability, just behind Delta’s score of 30.99. The tenth-largest commercial airline in the U.S. also finished in the top four in terms of affordability and safety.
Alaska made it into the top three thanks to the WalletHub team naming it the safest airline in the country. North America’s sixth largest airline also finished in third place in terms of comfort for passengers and affordability.
Rounding out the top five best airlines of the year are Envoy Air (4th), a regional airline out of Texas, and Spirit Airlines (5th).
I’m all about cheap tickets and legroom!
If you’re just looking for the cheapest ticket to your destination this year, look no further than Frontier Airlines. Researchers find that the airline has been consistently making things more affordable for passengers over the last six years.
However, if legroom and a comfy flight is all you care about when traveling, JetBlue Airways continues to reign supreme. The airline scored a perfect 5.0 on a five-point scale for the sixth year in a row. When it comes to comfort, researchers looked at Wi-Fi availability, extra legroom, and their assortment of complimentary snacks and beverages.
Is air travel really back to stay?
If you’re still on the fence about boarding a plane during the pandemic, WalletHub’s experts say don’t wait too long to decide. With mask mandates now becoming optional policies and staffing slowly returning to full strength, Americans will likely be crowding into airports all year.
“As far as passenger traffic, I do not think there is a pandemic effect on travel anymore. Leisure travel is back and business travel is coming back but at a slower pace. People want to be together and businesses want to come together,” says Chad Kendall, an associate professor in the Department of Aviation & Aerospace Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, in a statement.