5 U.S. Airlines That Are Least Likely To Screw Up Your Vacation | Old North State Wealth News
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5 U.S. Airlines That Are Least Likely to Screw up Your Vacation

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The last time I traveled, I ended up sitting on the plane for two hours before ever taking off. Somehow I found myself in a similar situation on the flight home after the plane parked at the wrong gate upon arrival. The prototypical loud child sitting behind me didn’t make things much better.

While airlines can’t regulate which seat-kicking kids are allowed on board, some are much better at averting inconveniences than others.

WalletHub’s latest annual airline rankings are based on an analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation flight data for the nine biggest national airlines as well as one regional carrier.

One of the rankings looked at airlines most likely to provide a stress-free experience based on the number of canceled flights, delays, mishandled-baggage reports and denied boardings. WalletHub excluded factors like weather and other things outside an airline’s control when divvying out points. However, we excluded the regional carrier SkyWest from our ranking, although it did take the No. 2 spot for reliability.

So which national airlines are least likely to leave you pulling out hairs at the gate? Let’s take a look.

5. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines airplane on the runway at Denver International Airport
Don Mammoser / Shutterstock.com

Overall reliability score: 23.82 out of 50 points

Score for:

  • Canceled flights: 5.74 out of 8 points
  • Delays: 5.11 out of 18 points
  • Mishandled baggage reports: 6.03 out of 9 points
  • Denied boardings: 6.94 out of 15 points

Spirit Airlines wasn’t always an airline at all; it began as the Clippert Trucking Co. in 1964. It didn’t shift its focus to the sky until 1980 when it ventured into air charter operations as Charter One.

Introducing jets to its fleet in 1992, the company was renamed Spirit Airlines and began a strategic shift to its low-cost, “no-frills” approach in 2007.

4. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines airplane flying out of Las Vegas
Eliyahu Yosef Parypa / Shutterstock.com

Overall reliability score: 24.68 out of 50 points

  • Canceled flights: 6.56 out of 8 points
  • Delays: 5.09 out of 18 points
  • Mishandled baggage reports: 1.31 out of 9 points
  • Denied boardings: 11.72 out of 15 points

Southwest Airlines was incorporated in 1967 and initially envisioned as a commuter air service traveling between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

Its first flight took off in 1971 out of Love Field, prompting the airline to adopt “love” as a theme for its promotions. In the ’70s, in-flight beverages were even referred to as “love potions.”

3. United Airlines

A United Airlines airplane takes flight
Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock.com

Overall reliability score: 26.98 out of 50 points

  • Canceled flights: 3.61 out of 8 points
  • Delays: 7.69 out of 18 points
  • Mishandled baggage reports: 1.14 out of 9 points
  • Denied boardings: 14.54 out of 15 points

United Airlines is still a big player today, but in the 1930s, it held a “near monopoly” that led to new government legislation. The company once oversaw four airlines and was connected to Boeing, the airplane manufacturer. To combat their grip on the market (and their payment practices), the Air Mail Act was passed in 1934. This forced aviation companies to separate themselves from manufacturers.

2. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines
Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock.com

Overall reliability score: 28.38 out of 50 points

  • Canceled flights: 5.21 out of 8 points
  • Delays: 9.15 out of 18 points
  • Mishandled baggage reports: 0.17 out of 9 points
  • Denied boardings: 13.86 out of 15 points

Alaska Airlines traces its roots back to 1932, first operating in Anchorage as McGee Airways and Star Air Service. It took on its current name in 1944. By the late 1940s, using surplus military aircraft, Alaska Airlines branched into worldwide charter work, including the Berlin Airlift in 1948.

The airline has publicly promised to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

1. Delta Air Lines

Traveler at the Delta Air Lines desk at an airport
Tada Images / Shutterstock.com

Overall reliability score: 32.40 out of 50 points

  • Canceled flights: 4.49 out of 8 points
  • Delays: 9.53 out of 18 points
  • Mishandled baggage reports: 3.38 out of 9 points
  • Denied boardings: 15 out of 15 points

Delta’s foundation as a company began in 1925 as Huff Daland Dusters, the world’s first aerial crop-dusting company. It had its first flights as Delta Air Service in 1929.

The airline’s 1940s headquarters buildings are the oldest surviving structures at the Atlanta airport and are designated as a Historic Aerospace Site.

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