“I see you. I’ll get your water when I have a minute. Jesus Christ.”
Um, did… that… really just happen?
Strike three for Delta Airlines. More like strike 37. The bad service had reached the “Orbitz threshold”, where I would no longer purchase tickets from Delta, even if cheaper than the competition.
Life is too short to deal with surly nonsense, and — upon landing back in SF — I decided to poll Twitter to find out which airlines create the most collective misery. This would serve as my must-avoid list.
Here are the results: the 10 worst airlines in the US according to customers…
Twitter + Slinkset
#1 – The Worst – Delta
Also submitted as “Delta Blows”, Delta get the ultimate F- for customer service, especially when you include the votes for Northwest Airlines (NWA) below, which they’ve absorbed into twin forces of suckiness. Bad customer service earned the Delta empire more than 30% of the total votes.
#2 – US Airways
#3 – United
#4 – American
#5 – AirTran
#6 – Northwest
#7 – Southwest
#8 – Frontier
#9 – Continental
#10 – Air France (?)
See the exact percentages here.
Of course, there are limits and weaknesses to this data-gathering approach: the availability heuristic. In other words, as commenter John Fawkes observed: are the “worst” airlines just the most commonly flown? Would we also find them at the top of the “best” list?
To make this methodology work, it seems you would have to also run a “best airlines” poll using the same method, and compare the two lists. If an airline is on the worst list and not the best list, then and only then should you declare that popular opinion has voted it down.
The data published below via Dolores Labs accounts for size differences, and their full post includes observations on the best airlines based on sentiment in tweets.
Dolores Labs — think Amazon Mechanical Turk on steroids — published the PeopleBrowsr results in beautiful graphic form. The best and worst airlines were determined through frequency analysis of positive and negative sentiment words in tweets mentioning the airlines.
Here are the worst, in descending order of Hulk-smash feelings:
#1 – The Worst – Northwest (= Delta)
#2 – US Airways
#3 – Delta
#4 – American
#5 – United
[Note that the top 5 are the same as the top 4 in the comparable Twitter poll]
#6 – Continental
#7 – Frontier
#8 – JetBlue
#9 – Alaska
#10 – Southwest (by far the best large airline, based on this analysis)
So what are ‘negative sentiment’ words? Here are a few you might have muttered yourself:
The moral of the story? Drop the extra $30 on tickets so you don’t feel like doing this to fools:
If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I would highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”
I recently partnered with Rolf to release the exclusive audiobook for Vagabonding. For more on this incredible book, click here.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.