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The 6 Worst Airlines in the U.S., Data Finds

What to know before your fly: These airlines failed to get a high satisfaction rating in the latest study from J.D. Power.

Flying can be, well, a nightmare. Inflated plane tickets, cramped seats, lack of entertainment, rude flight attendants, and overbooked flights can ruin a trip. However, some airlines underperform more than others in the categories that count.

Every year, J.D. Power releases their North America Airline Satisfaction Study, allowing travelers to rate all the major airlines–for better or worse–in various categories including cost, customer service, aircraft quality, entertainment, and more. In general, Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power, says that satisfaction overall decreased over the past year. Why? During the pandemic, many people enjoyed flying the friendly skies with more space on planes, shorter security lines, and more attention from flight attendants. "But that business model was simply not sustainable," he says.

This year, as travel started returning to pre pandemic levels, the experience of flying has become a bit disappointing. "Now, with volumes surging and some remnants of pandemic-era constraints still in place, passenger satisfaction is in decline—but that's not really bad news. If airlines can find ways to manage these growing volumes while making some small adjustments to help passengers feel more valued, they should be able to manage this return to 'normal.'"

Best Life spoke to Taylor for a rundown of the airlines that failed to impress travelers last year and were therefore deemed the worst in J.D. Power's study. Keep reading to find out which carriers they are, and next, don't miss What You Need to Know Before You Go to Europe Right Now.

Air Canada

AIr Canada Airplane

Air Canada, the largest airline in Canada, scored just 777 out of 1,000 in J.D. Power's North America Airline Satisfaction Study. While this airline is indeed, outside of the U.S., Taylor remarks: "They are like the American or United of Canada."

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United Airplane Interior

United, one of the largest airlines in America, scored just 774. However, Taylor maintains they are improving. "They have come a long way in the past five years and are one of the rising airlines," he says. "They are huge and it takes a lot of time and effort to make changes, but they are doing it. I expect them to continue doing better."

READ THIS NEXT: United's CEO Just Issued This Major Warning to Travelers.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airplane on Runway
CarterAerial / Shutterstock

Spirit Airlines might offer cheap airfare, but customers are disappointed with the carrier in general, giving it just 772 out of 1,000 points. "All they do is promise you cheap airfare," says Taylor. He notes that ultra-low-cost carriers rarely do well in J.D. Power's surveys, "because people don't feel like they get great value."


American Airlines Plane on Runway
Santiparp Wattanaporn/Shutterstock

American, with just 770 points, is "half a step behind United, but they are getting their act together," says Taylor. "They need to improve people skills and treat passengers like they are valued."

READ THIS NEXT: American Airlines Is Banning This Until Next Year.


Row of Frontier Airlines Planes

Frontier, another ultra-low-cost carrier, is the second worst airline, per travelers. Just like Spirit Airlines, customers don't think the airline offers value, which is why they don't do well in J.D. Power's survey and scored just 755.


West Jet Airlines
Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock

While WestJet is "better than they were a decade ago," per Taylor, they were the lowest scoring airline of the bunch with a score of just 75. "They just didn't do well in most of the categories," he says.

For more travel news and tips, check out The 10 Best Airports in America, According to Data.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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