Compare Airline Reviews
The ticket price and schedule are usually the main factor consumers consider when choosing an airline for a specific trip, but customer care, rewards programs and seating options all factor into how enjoyable a flight will be.
Sticking with one airline for all of your personal and business air travel can wind up saving money in the long run thanks to rewards programs that offer free flights, early boarding, waived fees for checked baggage and other perks for frequent travelers.
Top 10 Best Rated Airlines
|Read 1147 Reviews|
Southwest Airlines serves more than 90 destinations and operates more than 3,800 daily flights. Customers' Rapid Rewards program points don't expire as long as their accounts are active at least once every 24 months.
|Read 14 Reviews|
ExpressJet, a regional airline headquartered in Atlanta, operates as American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express. Their fleet has over 300 jets and flies to airports in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
|Read 10 Reviews|
The first privately owned airline in Thailand, Bangkok Air started as Sahakoi Air in 1968 as a charter company. They began offering domestic flights in 1986, and now fly on major routes in Thailand and South Asia.
|Read 447 Reviews|
Founded in 1999, JetBlue operates more than 900 daily flights. Based in New York, it's the fifth-largest U.S. airline. Billed as a low-cost carrier, its fleet of 216 planes serves 97 destinations, primarily in the United States.
|Read 230 Reviews|
Founded in the 1930s, Alaska Airlines' fleet of Boeing aircraft serves more than 17 million customers per year and flies to more than 60 cities in three countries. The airline offers customers the Mileage Plan awards program.
|Read 1983 Reviews|
Delta started in 1924 as a crop-dusting operation. Today, this Atlanta-based airline serves 328 destinations in 57 countries and operates more than 15,000 daily flights. Its popular rewards program is called SkyMiles.
|Read 161 Reviews|
Qatar Airlines, founded in 1997, is one of the youngest global airlines to serve all six continents. Their fleet of latest-generation aircrafts connects to over 150 destinations on the map.
|Read 2041 Reviews|
United Airlines is a major U.S. airline that serves 342 airports in 58 countries, and has more than 4,600 daily departures. United has hubs in the four largest U.S. cities and offers the MileagePlus rewards program.
|Read 59 Reviews|
Alligiant was founded in 1997. It’s a publically traded company with headquarters in Las Vegas. The airline offers non-stop flights to popular U.S. locations, like Orlando and Las Angeles. They cater to budget-conscious travelers.
|Read 208 Reviews|
Founded in 1929 and based in Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines has 52 planes serving the United States and several Asian-Pacific destinations. It's the 8th-largest U.S. commercial airline and offers the HawaiianMiles rewards program.
Airlines Contributing Editor
From the front desk of a busy FBO to the captain's seat of a commercial airliner, Erika Armstrong has experienced everything aviation has to offer. She is the author of A CHICK IN THE COCKPIT and her aviation articles can be found at Consumer Affairs, Plane & Pilot, Flying.com, Disciples of Flight, NYC Aviation, Contrails, Mentor, General Aviation News and Business Insider.
Airline features to consider
Airlines that offer additional services or just a little bit of extra care can make a big difference for some consumers. When dealing with the stress of flying, a good customer service experience can make all the difference.
- No missing bags: Lost luggage can be a major inconvenience while traveling. Even if the airline locates the lost suitcase, delivery delays force travelers to spend money on wardrobe additions to fill the gap. If an airliner loses or damages your bag in the United States, the Department of Transportation requires that the airline compensate you up to a maximum of $3,300, but it can be difficult to prove.
- Easy rescheduling: When something happens to change travel plans at the last minute, knowing that the airline can and will accommodate changes with no hassle is important.
- Boarding assistance: When corralling several children or dealing with a disability, having a helpful attendant or getting priority boarding can keep everything moving.
Having the option to pay more and upgrade seating can be important when booking business travel, for those who need extra space on a plane or those looking for a luxury experience. On the other hand, having the option for cheaper seats is just as important.
- Economy class: Typically the least expensive type of seating, economy combines a lower price with the least amount of space per person. These seats are best for those who aren’t concerned with luxury and want to get somewhere inexpensively.
- Business class: Some airlines offer business-class seating, which typically includes extra leg room and upgraded food and beverage service. These are best for working men and women who have to travel a lot for their occupation.
- First class: Top-tier seating is rarely available on domestic flights, but airlines that offer this white-glove option give fliers plenty of space, extra attention and possibly gourmet meals. First class can range from extra and bigger seats to fulling reclining seats and a private space divider. These seats are best for those looking to travel in luxury.
Most airlines offer some type of travel reward program for frequent fliers. Different programs offer different benefits.
- Early boarding: Customers who fly with the same airline on a regular basis may earn enough points to get additional benefits such as early boarding or boarding right after or with first- and business-class passengers.
- Automatic upgrades: Rewards members with a higher rating/points range may be eligible for automatic seating upgrades, free travel for companions, food and beverage services, extra luggage allowances or other benefits.
- Free flights: Airlines may offer the ability to earn rewards that can be redeemed for travel/tickets on future trips.
Not every airline flies into every city or every country for that matter. Choosing an airline often depends on which departure and arrival cities are available.
- Major cities: Most airlines offer flights to major cities, making commuter traffic a possibility for those that need to travel frequently.
- Vacation destinations: Some airlines focus solely on vacation destinations such as Las Vegas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York and other top tourist destinations.
- International airports: Many airlines support domestic travel, but only some offer flights to international destinations.
Cost of travel is often a deciding factor in airline travel, but some airlines add fees for different conveniences. Those who are budget conscious should be aware of these.
- Larger seats: On most airplanes, seat size is fairly standard. Upgrades are available for certain travelers, but a fee is normally added.
- Baggage: The amount of luggage you can carry for free varies by airline. Normally baggage is weighed in pounds, and a fee is charged if the luggage is over a certain set weight. Some airlines offer one bag checked for free but will charge for extra checked bags.
- Pets: Airlines often assess an additional fee for passengers traveling with a pet, but the amount can vary dramatically. It is important to check the airlines rules on the matter because a certain crate or other materials may be required.
- Reserving a specific seat: Some airlines are now charging passengers to want to chose their seat. This is especially important for families who are trying to be seated together. If you want to guarantee you’ll be seated together, you may have to pay a fee.
Ticket pricing and policies
The price of an airline ticket can be the most important factor when booking a flight, so it is important to keep in mind other policies that can affect the total cost.
- Discount flights: Discount flights for commuters may come with very low ticket prices and hidden fees. Be sure to look at the total cost of any trip to get the actual lowest price.
- Refund policy: Before booking a flight, check into the refund policy. Some airlines only offer refunds on full price fares, so buying a refundable ticket might cost several hundred dollars more.
- Transferable tickets: Businesses often book multiple flights for conferences and meetings. When one employee can't make the trip, transferring the ticket is a must. Look at the cost and policies involved if a last minute schedule change results in a different employee making the trip.
Types of airlines
These airlines offer business-class travel between major hubs worldwide. Most airlines in this class offer no economy seating.
Passenger airlines provide safe, fast and reliable travel for passengers. Aircrafts used for passenger service usually have limited cargo capacity suitable for luggage transport.
Offering some of the lowest fares, this category of airline also tends to have the fewest amenities and a more complex fee structure with added charges for checked baggage, in-flight snacks and other services.
Some remote areas do not have easy access to major airports. Regional airlines fill the gap and provide commuter service between small, often remote, communities and larger airports.
Common airline passengers
Limited vacation time often puts travelers on a plane to reach their destination in time to enjoy it. Flights make it possible to live in temperate areas and vacation in the tropics.
Business can take people all around the world to handle logistical problems, line up contracts or close sales.
People who travel often for business and personal reasons can rack up a lot of miles in the air each year.
The holiday season brings many individuals and families to the airport for trips to a relative's house.
Airline expert reviews
American Airlines is the world’s largest airline by fleet size and revenue. With headquarters in Ft. Worth, TX, they have an extensive international and domestic network with 953 aircraft making it the largest commercial fleet in the world.
Originally founded as a crop-dusting company in 1924, Delta is now one of the largest airlines in the world. Each year, more than 160 million travelers fly Delta.
With 723 aircraft in their mainline fleet and an additional 510 aircraft operated regionally, United Airlines has one of the largest passenger fleets in the world.
After incorporating in 1967, Southwest Airlines did not start taking passengers until 1971 after a long battle through the court system. Today, Southwest is the largest budget passenger airline in the U.S., launching more than 3,800 flights per day on peak travel days.
Founded in 1999, JetBlue has become known for innovation and leading-edge technologies. In 2013, they were the first airline to offer personal electronic device connection from gate to gate.
Founded in 1932, Alaska Airlines is now the seventh-largest passenger airline in the U.S. It is a West Coast favorite with corporate headquarters in Seattle.
Founded in 1994, Frontier Airlines now launches more than 375 flights each day to destinations throughout the U.S., Mexico and Jamaica. Today, this relatively new airline employs more than 3,000 aviation professionals.
Headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaiian Airlines is the eighth-largest commercial airline in the U.S. It has the distinction of being the oldest U.S. carrier to have avoided a fatal crash.
Even though the licensed logo and Virgin name are on the tail, Virgin Atlantic only owns 25% while the rest is owned by private investors who are U.S. citizens. Since its launch in 2007, the California-based airline’s mission has been to “make flying good again.”
Ryanair is a Dublin based low-cost airline that is Europe’s busiest international airline by passenger numbers. They fly 1600 flights daily to 185 destinations and boast the most on-time flights of any airline in Europe.
Qantas was founded in 1920 under the name Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited. Today, this airline is the largest in Australia for both domestic and international travel and one of the nation's largest employers with a roll call of more than 30,000.
Headquartered in Seoul, Korean Airlines is the largest airline in South Korea. This airline's combined passenger and cargo divisions offer service to 127 cities worldwide.
Founded in 1984 by Richard Branson, the owner of legendary record label Virgin Records, this airline started with a single plane. More than three decades later, Virgin Atlantic is now the second-largest long-haul airline in the UK.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.