Airline Quality Rating 2014

Virgin America

For the second year in a row, Airline Quality Rating has put Virgin America at the top of their heap, with JetBlue Airways coming second.

Overall, the researchers gave the airline industry its best score since they began the study in 1991.

“The Airline Quality Rating industry score for 2013 shows an industry that improved in overall performance quality over the previous year. As an industry, performance in 2013 was better than the previous two years,” the study reported.

Airline Quality Rating 2014, which reflects data collected last year, is compiled by two university researchers, Dean Headley of Wichita State University and Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott.

To compile their index, the researchers gather monthly data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and look at on-time performance, lost luggage, number of passengers bumped from overbooked flights and overall complaints. An airline’s on-time performance is the most important criteria.

Third place was a draw between Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines. The two carriers matched scores but the researchers gave third ranking to Hawaiian, with Delta taking fourth place.

United Airlines showed the largest improvement (two places) but still only ranked 12th. AirTran Airlines had the biggest decline, moving from a previous third place to tenth spot for 2013.

Southwest Airlines finished eighth, in the middle of the 16 carriers ranked and the same as last year. Back in 2007, they ranked as high as third, but have been declining steadily. That same year, Air Tran ranked No. 1. In the latest ranking they finished tenth.

US Airways ranks No. 7 and American No. 9. American Eagle Airlines finished last out of 15 carriers ranked.

The Tarmac’s View:  Yet another airline performance ranking. Does the Airline Quality Rating system of “weighted averages and monthly performance data in the areas of on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boarding, mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories, airlines’ comparative performance for the calendar year of 2013” really matter?

Virgin America gets bragging rights again for 2013, but let’s remember on-time performance weighs heavy in the rankings. United, for example, has a zillion more flights in the U.S. than Virgin America. Given the passenger discrepancies, is it a fair comparison?

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