These 3 Airlines Are Handling Coronavirus the Worst, Experts Say

When it comes to boarding practices, cleaning methods, and seating, these airlines aren't stacking up.

While the coronavirus pandemic has changed pretty much every element of daily life, air travel is arguably one of the most altered experiences. And even though medical experts are urging everyone to avoid jetting off unless it's absolutely necessary, even vital air travel has its risks. Of course, airlines have changed to try to meet the new health precautions COVID has created, but some have done so better than others.

To give you an idea of which airlines you should be avoiding right now, The Points Guy had industry experts use 2020's unique safety requirements to come up with a ranking of the 10 largest carriers in the country based on their responses to COVID-19. So, before you pack your bags, check out the airlines that are handling coronavirus the worst, according to the experts. And for more ways the pandemic has changed flying, check out This Beloved Item Has Been Banned From Flights, Thanks to COVID-19.

How does the ranking work?

man wears a medical mask and wipes his hands with disinfectant

Instead of the typical comparisons of in-flight meals or legroom, the criteria for this ranking cover everything from cleaning methods to safety protocols. Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United, were ranked in five categories (ticketing, cleaning, on the ground, onboard, and loyalty), each on a scale from 0 to 20. Then, their final scores were calculated out of a total of 100. And while most managed at least a C with 70/100 or more, the following three fell well below that mark.


allegiant airline planes

Allegiant received relatively high marks for allowing passengers to easily switch or cancel their flight reservations. But while they "encourage" customers not to book middle seats, there are no restrictions on flight capacity. Instead, passengers can opt for an alert when their flight reaches 65 percent capacity.

Allegiant was also docked points for vaguely describing onboard sanitization processes as "regular schedule of standard and deep-clean procedures," and for not changing their boarding procedures to include social distancing requirements. Allegiant's final score was a 47.2/100. And for more new flying faux pas, check out Not Wearing a Face Mask Can Get You Banned From These Airlines.

Frontier Airlines

frontier airline planes

While Frontier is the only of the bottom three airlines to conduct temperature checks for all passengers during boarding, they still received the lowest ticketing score of 10.2 out of 20 for not taking any steps to significantly reduce the number of passengers on any of their flights. (The airline reversed course on their wildly unpopular offer for flyers to pay for the privilege of a socially distanced empty middle seat in May.) Frontier also lost points for their restrictive ticket change and cancellation policies, and because the only at-the-gate protocol change was switching their boarding practice to start from back to front. Frontier's final score was a 44.7/100. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Spirit Airlines

spirit airline plane landing

As the airline handling coronavirus the worst, Spirit Airlines received the lowest marks in the group for both on-the-ground (scoring a 7.2/20) and onboard procedures (scoring 7.7/20). Without any posted policy for onboard capacity or reduced seating, only using electrostatic cleaning devices for gates at "high-traffic airports," and an unenforced and unofficial social distancing policy during check-in and boarding, experts say there's plenty left to be desired from the budget airline. Adding insult to injury, in true Spirit fashion, anyone who has forgotten to pack or wear a face mask will be charged $3 to get one on board. Spirit's final score was a 42.7/100. And for more on how officials are trying to keep flying safe, check out The TSA Just Announced This New Airport Security Requirement.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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