New Data: The 10 Worst Airlines in the US

“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.

I also learned that two start-ups called PeopleBrowsr and Dolores Labs were simultaneously figuring out the same thing with really cool social search analysis.

Here are the results: the 10 worst airlines in the US according to customers…

Twitter + Slinkset

I used Twitter to drive people to a customized Digg-like page for the worst airlines, where companies were submitted and then voted up and down. Cast your vote here.

#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

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:

See the full Dolores Labs results and insight here. Damn, them boys have some skills with making data sexy. Check out their Fleshmap from crowdsourced sex input. But I digress…

The moral of the story? Drop the extra $30 on tickets so you don’t feel like doing this to fools:


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151 Replies to “New Data: The 10 Worst Airlines in the US”

  1. Once I flew an airline called Spirit Air. It’s a long story, but to make it short we were flying to Atlanta from Orlando, and the plane that was supposed to take us there had not yet arrived. Normally, this would result in recompensation for all the passengers(most of them were connecting through atl and were going to miss their next flight to mexico). So Spirit air decides to use a loophole and say that the weather is bad in atlanta and thus that will be the reason for the delay even though that point is moot since we had no plane to take us there anyway. However, there is a rule that if a delay is due to weather they do not have to reimburse passengers for missed flights. To make matters even worse, I called someone in atlanta and they confirmed that it was sunny skies all day. Basically, spirit airlines are a bunch of a nefarious liars.

  2. Just saw this video in my consumer behavior class, and it made me think of this blog post. This video was not commissioned by a rival airline; it is in fact a true story, and making it is one of the most awesome acts of revenge I have ever seen.

    “United Breaks Guitars”

  3. Surprised there wasn’t more love for Virgin America. I suppose they aren’t big enough yet to have been used by most people. They are awesome!

  4. I’ve traveled a lot the last few years and always refuse to fly American, Continental, U.S., United, and honestly, anything that sounds like it would be Domestic American. Just like buying a Ford Escort in the 80’s and 90’s you’d have to be ignorant or stupid to fly “traditional domestic” when there are much better airlines such as Virgin America and Jet-Blue out now.

  5. Cool article (as always). The final Bruce Lee clip says it all!!

    Too bad Canada was not included here. Air Canada would have won hands down – grumpy employees, delayed flights… Still use it as there are not that many options out here.

  6. I want to stick up for the 7th worst airline on the list- Southwest Airlines. I’ve seen the television show- I know about lost bags and other issues that can happen on ANY airline. I’ve personally never had an issue- but beyond personal experience Southwest Airlines has the remarkable combination of the best safety record in the industry, and the best on-time record in the industry.

    There are also several other reasons I like Southwest that I’m sure actually get them a poor rating from some people- but these people are exactly the kind of people I don’t like to fly with anyway, and as far as I’m concerned- I’m glad Southwest does a good job alienating them:

    1. Fat people. Southwest caused a ruckus in the industry with their policy of charging fatsos for two seats. As far as I’m concerned- great. I don’t want to be sold a seat next to a 400 pound gelatenous blob that is spilling over into my seat.

    2. Late people. If you’re late, paging you to a Southwest flight is just for show. If you’re within sight of the gate, they *** might *** wait for you, but they’re notorious for slamming the door and pushing back without late people. Good. Get your a** there on time, or get left behind. Why should the rest of us have to wait because you couldn’t do what we managed to do.

    And with regard to late- if you DO actually make it on the plane and you’re fumbling about with your stuff and won’t just SIT DOWN, you will be ridiculed mercilessly by the Southwest crew and told bluntly to stow your stuff, sit down, and buckle up. They’re not shy about telling everyone on the plane over the speaker- we’re all waiting for YOU. If you’re offended by this- got news for you– they’re just saying what the rest of us are thinking.

    3. First-come, first-served seating that encourages ONLINE registration. Saves the rest of us time. Sorry if you can’t figure it out, but it ain’t about you. It’s about all of us.

    All-in-all, the way I see it– Southwest Airlines are geniuses. Their policies have a “weeding out” effect. What they do is essentially group those of us with common sense together while saddling their competition with the dopes. If it’s not deliberate, I’d actually be surprised. 🙂

  7. Nice and funny article. I have a little experience about US airlines but more from European ones.

    If there is a list from euro airlines, reasons would be same as in US but I have to say that if the airlines would focus on making money with a long term, that kind of customer service will out of question. In short terms, yes, savings are huge but in long term, big airlines are just giving their position away to budget airlines.

  8. I’ve flown on United, Delta, Alaska/Horizon, and a few Foreign Airlines. While I can say that the Foreign Airlines (Lufthansa, British) I thought were the best, Alaska/Horizon has been my best domestic experience. United I won’t stick up for, because they really are as bad as you’ve heard. Somehow however when you are basing your statistics on twitter you aren’t likely to have the best information. People complain about everything everywhere. In some cases it is warranted in other cases it is not. Delta had good service, but that was years ago, I only flew Delta once. How Alaska or Southwest would be worst at anything I don’t know. (I’ve never flown Southwest, but everyone who I know who has loved it.)

  9. The thing is, within the US anyway, we don’t even have many realistic choices. I live in Dallas, a fairly major hub and home to AA and Southwest. Lately AA has significantly more expensive than the other airlines, and Southwest is only good for very specific destinations. Ditto AirTran. We don’t have JetBlue.

    Flying is an almost universally poor experience these days so price and schedule are the only factors that influence my decision. The exception is during the holidays when winter storms commonly paralyze airports in the north that turn out to also be major hubs… Chicago, Detroit, NY, DC… I always make a point to fly through Atlanta or other southern hub, but that limits my choices even more.

    I hope someday they will reform the airline system. In many cases, it’s worth flying over driving, but only just.

  10. I bought a ticket on Delta, thinking it would be easier to deal with any problems that might come up if I had only one airline to deal with. Wrong!! As soon as I bought the ticket, I saw they were all codeshare flights…and the nightmare began. Right now I’ve been on the phone with Alaska/Horizon for 30 minutes because I had a message from them saying my flights had changed. Now they are telling me that Delta sold me a flight with an “illegal” connection (45 minutes) and will have to reroute me. If I bought a ticket based on the itinerary, how can they change it? Isn’t that bait-and-switch? How is it legal to hold me to a purchase when I’m not receiving what I paid for? I don’t understand how airlines are allowed to get away with this.

  11. Interesting. I fly Delta about once a week, and they have always been fantastic. I’ll fly them even if a competitor has a slightly lower price because they do a good job. I think a lot of people have super unrealistic expectations of what kind of service you should be getting on a flight. It isn’t a restaurant for God’s sake – there are hundreds of people on a plane, and sometimes it will take a few minutes to get you a bottle of water.

  12. It’s nice to see jetblue set as one of the better ranked ones, I know for me, delta by far has been the worst, and the tickets are way overpriced for the lackluster service I have received. I’m surprised united was ranked as highly as it was , i always hear complaints from my colleagues about them.

  13. The largest airlines with the strongest unions will always have the most complaints. I did not see where you had adjusted for the number of person flights per day but expecting amazing performance from a large company that has to deal with weather, the government, the local airports an millions of unreasonable people every day isn’t easy.

  14. B4 dereg of airlines under Reagan–flying was civilized. Now it’s just material for SNL skit.

    Just as US economy was civilized B4 dereg of derivatives in ’02 when their total ‘value’ was $9T against $14T GDP. Today, 7-years later, derivative global ‘value’ is $1.14 Quadrillion against $50-60T world economy, and US economy is the world’s laughing stock. Tweet that.

  15. taking a break from the tsunami volunteer work in Thailand, flying back to UK. Young lady asks if I would like a drink, yes please, whisky and water. Clunk clunk went the ice, sorry, whiskey, water , clunk clunk, sorry, only heathens and Americans put ice in whisky, she got it, I got a proper drink in my hand. Whump, bit of turbulence, she went on her ass. I don’t know why other people were screaming, I was screaming because the liquid, that precious negotiated-for-patiently liquid went 3 feet vertically out of the tumbler – spread out and descended randomly. The attendant got up, rushed the trolley to the end of the cabin and strapped herself in…

    Was it something I said?.

  16. As someone who routinely flies in and out of Philadelphia (AKA: Philly and/or PHL) I found it hillarious that Philly is not only the only city listed in the graphic of ‘negative sentiment words’ but managed to be included in all it’s glorious forms, Philadelphia, Philly, & PHL!

  17. Over the past 20 yrs I have logged many a flight, most good, some bad, the worst flights have been on Delta and United. These two airlines have cancelled, or delayed more flights than I can count. AA has been good to me for the most part, with delays in and out of DFW due to sumertime thunderstorms which can really mess things up. Only really bad experience with AA was a couple of yrs ago when a storm caused 4+ hrs of delay for our flight, but many others where cancelled. Biggest beef was the gate agents really didn’t know anything more than we did and they were becoming defensive because all the stuck passengers were getting pissed off and taking their frustration out on the agents, so who was worse, the airline or the passengers for forgeting their manners, unfortunately it was the passengers.

    My favorite airline is Southwest, I know exactly what to expect on each flight, knowing that it will probably leave/arrive on time and with any luck there will be someone with some personality and maybe even a little talent, to make me laugh. I don’t mind paying a little extra to be in the first 15 of the A group and I get a free (OK I did pay for it with the upgrade) beer, whiskey, or tequlia.

    I just got back from Kauai flying on Hawaiian and with the exception of the way they run the check-in at LIH, they did very well, serving me and my very demanding wife. She drinks a lot of water and asked to have her 40 oz. canteen filled, one attendant filled it only half way, another asked me to follow her to the galley, where she was more than happy to fill the canteen full, so I guess it really depends on who is serving you.

    So the bottom line on flying is, set your expectations really low and if they manage to exceed your expectations, it would have to be called a great flight, if on the other hand they fell below this expectation, next time vote with your wallet and use a different carrier.

    Being that I work directly with my customers, I know that sometimes no matter what I do, I can not make them happy and they will write a letter to my pointy haired bosses and bitch their asses off about how bad my service was, then there is the majority of my customers who love my work and walk away happy, but never write a letter to let the PHB know how much they appriecate my work and then every once in a while, I have a customer write a letter to the president of our firm and to thank me for everything I have done. I really like this last group of people because they know that a few kind words will go a long way and get them even better service next time.

    So, next time you take a flight, remember to thank everyone who helps you, if something is wrong, is it the person or the circumstance that you are upset with and no matter what, remember your manners. Two wrongs never make a right.

  18. This is an amazing letter to Delta, RT from twitzer

    Dear Delta:

    I am a frequent-flyer with Platinum status on Delta. And one of your biggest fans.

    I’m also the guy in those UPS Whiteboard commercials on TV. And I’m not just the actor. I’m also am the creative director at the ad agency who creates the advertising for UPS.

    On June 18th I flew Delta for the last time. As of now, I cannot imagine ever stepping foot on another Delta airplane.

    Because on June 18th, things went wrong. Very, very wrong.

    On that morning, my wife and two children (7 year old twins), got up at 4 am in order to catch the first flight from our home in Richmond, VA to Atlanta. It was a business trip mixed in with a family vacation. You see, my parents live in Atlanta and my children hadn’t seen their grandparents for quite some time. As you can imagine, we were all very excited.

    The sequence of events that occurred for the next 13 hours, and then resumed again the next day, is almost too hard to explain.

    In fact, as type this, my heart is racing once again.

    You see, our flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem on our plane. Over the course of the next 13 hours we sat in the terminal at Richmond as flight after flight after flight all departed on time to Atlanta. Except, of course, ours. An entire airplane full of people – all of whom had gotten up early to catch the first flight of the day – watched helplessly as every other plane departed incident-free.

    And since our bags were on the plane (we had all already been seated, before we were asked to de-board) we couldn’t even get our luggage off the plane and go home. Also, we kept being told our plane was almost fixed.

    I took the initiative at noon to book us on the 5pm flight to Atlanta. I called Delta (five times in fact – you can check) to confirm and re-reconfirm again. I was continually reassured that my family had guaranteed seats on that 5pm flight. I was, in fact, on the phone with you as the Delta employees at the gate refused to give us our seats – on a flight we had already been confirmed on. And I never even heard an “I’m sorry.”

    Consequently, I missed a few things in Atlanta: The Direct Marketing Association’s conference – of which I was the guest speaker. It was a paid event and the DMA was understandably shocked, mortified and embarrassed by the situation. They had to offer refunds to all their attendees.

    I also missed my Wall Street Journal interview.

    I also missed my meeting.

    But much worse than all that, was what happened to my family.

    I really wish some one could hear the crying and see the stress on my children’s face, as they ask why we couldn’t go see grandma and grandpa. And why we couldn’t just go home. I wish you could have heard the phone calls as all of us cried as we spoke with my parents. As my parents, who were also crying, tried to console their grandchildren. My children kept on asking why the airline was doing this to them. They kept asking what is was they did wrong.

    We finally got our bags back after our 7am flight was officially and blessedly canceled.

    At 6pm.

    We were NEVER even offered as much as food vouchers for breakfast, lunch or dinner – all of which were purchased at the airport, as our flight continued to be pushed back and back. And we were not alone. But at least we could spend the evening in our home.

    Again, we never even heard an apology.

    The flight the next morning, was of course, delayed. Those passengers, who hadn’t been through what the rest of us had, could not understand our collective stress and tears when our gate was changed and then we were delayed. It was a short delay, one that until now, I wouldn’t have even given a second thought about. But the stress lasted much longer. I had to promise my children that I would not make them fly on an airplane anytime soon. They used to LOVE to fly. They simply cannot understand why things are so unfair.

    Since returning on June 21st, I have flown 5 round trip flights to Las Vegas, Atlanta and New York. None of those flights have been on Delta.

    I am now prepping my travels for the next three months, which include multiple flights to Los Angeles, St Louis, New York, Orlando, London, Berlin, Singapore and Shanghai.

    In fact, I am literally flying MORE than I ever have in my life!

    But until I receive some sort of apology, I will continue to adjust my schedule to avoid Delta. My coordinator and travel agent know not to book me on any Delta flights for the time being.

    This is a fixable problem. This is about principle? Yes. It’s about my belief in customer service. It’s about working with business partners who respect each other. I really believe that. Which is why, until June 18th, I had been one of your biggest cheerleaders.

    In the end, it wasn’t the actual circumstance that has caused me to avoid your airline. It is the complete and utter lack of compassion.


    Andy Azula

    UPS Whiteboard Actor

    SVP/ Creative Director – The Martin Agency

  19. I had a bad time with American Airlines. I was moving overseas and brought my dog. It was a long flight, with a long layover in Dallas. There were instructions on the kennel to feed him and give him water.

    When I arrived in Europe, I found that they hadn’t given him anything–there was untouched homeland security tape around the kennel, and the poor dog was sick from lack of water. It had been nearly 24 hours of travel, and nobody thought to give him any water!

  20. Southwest cleverly does not give you an assigned seat on the plane, but rather an assigned place in the line at the gate. Very clever, and yet, there was still quite a bottleneck in the jetway. The best laid plans of mice and men…

    I have had much more frequent opportunities to fly AirTran, which offers (at least in my experience) good customer service, internet access and XM satellite radio, neither of which SW offers (although I think they may offer internet in the future).

  21. I used to bartend in a bar at a Marriott and got to hear the complaints of the business travelers frequently. The number one complaint, above all others and not limited to airline complaints, was that Delta was terrible. And that was coming from business travelers. These are people who had platinum status with Marriott or other hotels. I took that as a clue for when I travel.

    I still liken travelling on a plane to like being a long bus ride but with wings and without homeless people.

    And who the _____ is Megan? lol

  22. Delta is defently the worst airline in the worls…. the custemor service and the booking system is one of the lowest standard in the entire world.

    I have flawn Delta couple of times now and I am now fed up with the incompetent personal they are hiring . Cheap and low class airline…

  23. Isn’t it curious that best service is provided by airlines of the “third” world countries? When you flying Korean, Thai, Mexican lines you feel “serviced” rather than “dealt with” on Delta, etc.

  24. Two weeks ago the last straw was drawn with Delta when it took me 23 hours to get from Denver to Jackson, MS due to a, “Mechanical”. Yesterday was the worst serious of horrible pass the buck treatment that finally ended today with my decision to never give Delta another penny of my companies money for travel. I hope this gets to someone that will steer clear of this bad airline.

    I started my last trip yesterday when I left Orlando and arrived in Atlanta. When I arrived, I searched for help. After standing in a line for 15 minutes, I was given a boarding pass for the following day and a $6 meal voucher. WHAAAAAAAAAAAT! My daughter was flying in to Denver to meet me. She’s 14 and I arranged the flights with a 4 hour window just in case Delta tried to screw me but 12 hours!!! I was told there was a mechanical. I explained to 3 different attendents (lines of 30-40 minutes each). Not one of them had compassion for the fact that my daughter was going to be stranded by herself in Denver at 14. I actually knew that Delta was going to give me the big run-around and give me the short end of the stick after demonstrating that they really don’t give a damn about their customers so I had already called my ex-wife to not board my daughter on the plane. I have to say, Alaska Airlines, most particularly, “Betty” on the phone was the most pleasant person. I wish that Alaska Airlines would buy out Delta and expand bringing their slogan of, “Fly the friendly skies” to the nation and the world.

    They finally gave me a hotel voucher for a shXtty Days Inn and $12 worth of meal vouchers equaling $18. Well, I was at the airport so dinner cost me $40. When I got to the hotel, it was disgusting. I should have gotten a different hotel but I really think it’s up to the airline to pay for it not me.

    So, I finally got into Denver after arriving at the airport early (6am) this morning. I had to argue with a woman and clearly state to her and everyone around the ticket counter that Delta had left me in a terrible position. I explained that I have choices of who to fly when I fly 2 times a week for business and Delta has lost not only a lot of money from me but I will be doing everything in my power to make it clear to everyone else that they need to make the wise decision and stay clear of this airline. They need to go bankrupt and get out of this business. The CEO needs to have his Xss handed to him on a silver platter and all executives need to be replaced with those needing jobs. As for those customer service agents on the front lines, they can be retrained. Obviously they hate the company they work for and how it’s run, that’s why they don’t care about anyone.

    I say, sell Delta to Alaska Airlines, this would be the best move!

  25. The real issue is that the steward/stewardess is not aircrew. They are flying waiters. When we started refering to them as “aircrew” is when the trouble started.

    Being in the service industry is tough and the work is frequently unpleasant. That said, I can think of few other legal jobs in the world where you can earn the better part of $70,000 a year with great benefits and have zero actual job skills beyond being friendly and personable.

  26. I seldom fly at all, but I just came back from a trip on Alaska airlines. I followed the directions of the reservations staff and brought my husband’s medications and cervical traction device on the plane as carry-ons. Someone else walked out with his traction device and they didn’t care. Some of the employees blamed me because they thought I should have checked them on in regular baggage. One employee told my daughter that just because I was ADVISED to take them as carry-ons, that didn’t mean I had to FOLLOW that advice!!! Perhaps it would have been better to have just had them land in some other state!! Now we are dealing with having to replace a medical device that cost $520 when it was purchased 3 years ago, and now costs $795! I don’t know if Medicare will pay for it a second time. My daughter demanded that the police be called, and a report was taken. I will NEVER fly Alaska or Horizon again.

  27. I have flown Delta many times in the past year and I have always received prompt, courteous service. The seating is comfortable even in the coach area. The flight attendants have always been very friendly, even when the weather has caused problems/delays on international flights . The same cannot be said for American Airlines. I had a horrible experience with them on both the outbound and return part of my round-trip international flight. The seating was very cramped (and I am only 5 ft tall and 110 lbs!). The flight attendants were surly and one was downright rude to everyone on-board, yelling at all of us on the intercom “you had better turn off your electronics and get your seat backs upright!”

    I am very surprised that Delta ranked the way it did since I have never had any lost luggage, delays have only been because of bad weather, and the service has always been super friendly.

    Now, even if Delta has a higher ticket price I will fly with them. I will never fly with American Airlines again.

  28. On our wedding anniversary, we had flown first class to new york for a week’s stay. Upon our return flight home, I was getting a cold, my nose was stuffed up, and since I couldn’t taste anything, did not eat . I had my eyes closed and was anticipating getting home. All of a sudden, I hear a woman’s voice talking to me, calling me by NAME. I open my eyes and a stewardess is crouching down on her knees, her face very close to mine. She wants to know if I am changing planes after this flight. I say no, why? She says because there is a first class dress code and I was wearing jeans and they are not acceptable and I should not have been allowed on this flight.(She didn’t say it, but my instinct is that had I said I was going on to another flight, she would have tried to stop me) I say, What first class dress code? She wanted to know if anybody stopped me at the gate. I said what? She said I should have been denied boarding. I said the man across from me was wearing jeans and so was a woman in front of him. What are you talking about? She stood up and walked away. I thought she might have been talking to the wrong person, dismissed it as a weird, inappropriate question, and proceeded to disembark the plane. She stood there just smiling at me. I decided to call AA and ask them to explain what the heck that was all about! Upon calling American Airlines to discuss the conversation I had with her, an airlines rep told me what transpired. He said that she thought I was flying free and if so, anyone flying on a free first class ticket has to observe a dress code, of which jeans were not permissible and one can be denied boarding. I wanted to know why she hadn’t checked the passenger manifest for that information, as she knew my name, which most certainly would have told her what I paid for the ticket. He had no answer. He also said that the stewardesses/flight attendants are encouraged to challenge/question customers anytime they felt it was necessary. I said it was poor customer service and rude. He was most apologetic for her behavior and said her supervisor would talk with her. I feel that the flight attendants are stooges for the airlinessince they are encouraged to question customers if they feel it necessary. Needless to say, I told him AA just lost two (and possibly more) customers as we will never fly AA ever again. He didn’t seem to care. By the way, there is no first class dress code for PAYING passengers, only ones with a free ticket. Had she checked the manifest, there would have been no need for this conversation.

    1. I work for an airline (rhymes with temperamental), and as an employee we get some free passes to travel first class. SOME of the first class flight attendants don’t like this, as they have to serve us as if we were full fare first class passengers, so they make every attempt to be snotty and as rude as possible. Seems like you got the employee treatment. Don’t feel too bad though, because the legacy airline mgmts are just in how they treat everyone-customer or employee.

    2. Interestingly enough, I almost NEVER fly dressed up. But on a few occasions, when I have had to fly to attend important business meetings, and I’ve had to bring a suit, I have always worn the suit while flying in order to avoid having to stuff it in a suitcase, and wrinkle the hell out of it.

      So, on two of those occasions, when I was wearing my suit during my flight, I was upgraded to first class, simply because I was a well-dressed guy, and because they had ample room in first class.

      That happened to me two different times on American Airlines. It never happened on Delta, though. Then again, it never happened on United or Continental, either. Nor on Southwest, and I like Southwest.

      All domestic flying in the U.S. sucks, with the exception of Southwest. Of course, I have never flown Alaska Air, Jet Blue, or some of the other small carriers.

      I have flown Delta MANY times to Asia. I have also flown to Asia, and elsewhere internationally, on United, NWA, Continental, and American. American is the best for overseas flights, BY FAR, in my opinion. HOWEVER, that being said, American totally sucks compared to other international carriers, like Korean, Singapore, Malaysian, and Cathay Pacific.

      Two months ago, I flew to Asia on Delta, flying on one of the old NWA airplanes. Delta bought NWA and never bothered to do ANYTHING to fix those dilapidated airplanes. I have never flown to Asia on a plane that did not have tv screens built into the headrests, nor with headrests that lacked the head-support adjustable wings. The planes were dirty, with wall panels and other cabin pieces breaking loose all over the place, the bathrooms were filthy and not stocked with paper towels, my armrest was broken, making the 14-hour trip that much more uncomfortable, the video signal on the screen was blurry at best, my headphone jack didn’t work, my wife’s remote didn’t work, so she couldn’t hear anything and could not change channels or turn on her light, etc. The plane was visibly falling apart throughout the cabin. It was totally embarrassing to be an American, on a U.S. plane full of Asians, and having the most out-of-date, dilapidated airplanes on the international airline circuit. Philippines Airlines is rated one of the worst airlines in the world, and their planes are in far better shape, and they are terrible in comparison to other international Asian carriers.

      I honestly cannot imagine anyone consistently experiencing good service and a quality flying experience on Delta. Like Tim, my stats are terrible with Delta, and I have flown them dozens of times over the years. It has been one bad experience after another.

      They also used to have a terrible web site (and it still may be. It’s been a long time since I last used it.), and until recently, their automated phone system for checking departures and arrivals was absolutely horrific. They have recently fixed it, but before they did, it was the worst of them all, among the big three U.S. carriers. That is one of the areas where AA really shines. Their automated phone system for checking flights is the best of them all.

      As disappointing as AA is much of the time, I still think they are the best of the big three U.S. carriers (AA, Delta, United). I am really glad I live in Dallas for that reason. I can get direct flights to almost anywhere in the U.S., as well as to half of the world, and AA is substantially better than Delta and United in virtually every category, and they still suck!

      I wish Cathay would open a domestic branch in the U.S. Wouldn’t that be great? Or Malaysian, perhaps. They have fantastic food and great-looking stewardesses. So does Korean. Hmmmmmm . . . . What a great idea. One of those companies should come over here and compete directly with the U.S.’s domestic carriers. That might just shock them into competence. Of course, it is probably illegal for a foreign airline to come here and do that, and if so, that would be TOO BAD. Competition is the great equalizer and corrector of markets and industries. That is the fundamental problem among the U.S. airlines, in my opinion. More competition is clearly needed.

  29. DELTA! This airline should be out out of business–it is that bad! Most of the employees we have run into, sometimes literally, are the rudest, most ineffective, least intelligent and least prepared to handle any situation we have ever encountered. It is becaue of DELTA that my family decided that since we did not need to fly anywhere, we would not! From now on, if we cannot drive, take a bus or a train to get to a destination, we simply do not go there! I refuse to relive our experiences with DELTA by relaying any sordid stories, but imagine the very worst (hysterical, out of control flight attendants AND pilots!!)–and unimaginably LONG delays. And if they change any information at all, do not rely upon them to announce it or even inform their employees of it!! Grrrrr…whatever you do, do not ask why there is this or that problem. The employees will make sure your trip is a living hell. And if your flight gate has been moved, good luck finding out where they moved it. This happened to us once without being told, and without them telling even their employees. What a disastrous company of fools they are!

  30. Absolute worst is the UNITED. Why they are not on the top list,

    They should the worst. Losing luggage every time, no customer service over the phone really. For whatver milres they give for traveling very expensive flights you you could buy couple of candy, otherwise you will loose miles as well. Pretty expensive. Connect through idiotic Frankfurt airport.

  31. DELTA is the Worst! I have had problem after problem with them. The cancellation policy is a joke and now my company purchased a ticket twice. Way to go delta… you lost another customer for life, oh and you left me with no other options but to bend over and take it from you.

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  34. Jetblue is the worse American airline by far!!!!

    I have traveled for 3 years and my experience with Jetblue has been far worse than that of United, American, Continental, and even Delta. Jetblue is the king of delay. I didn’t fly on a single flight that went on time. They also have the longest checkin of any airline I have flow on, especially on their international flights. I fail to understand how jetblue rates so well relatively. Maybe it’s because of people like me that don’t complain.

    Jetblue is by far worse than Continental, Alaska Air, American, United, and Delta.

    Jetblues flights are always delayed, the plans are old and the seats and try tables are always dirtier, the TV’s and headphone jacks don’t work. They sell headphones after the movies have stared, and I think that’s great, because it’s a hint that you shouldn’t purchase the headphones. Because even if the TV display works, the headphone jack doesn’t work. They board you on the plane even when they know the plane will not be able depart for another 2 or more hours and just have you sit on the plane. There are so many more issues.

    All of the American fleets are bad, but none of them are as bad as Jetblue. I have started collecting photos and videos that I may share one day.

  35. Great article about a place that I had never even thought about visiting. Interesting to hear about the situation there and amazing that you went the length to get the true story about what it’s like.