Best of the Best Airlines
Let's face it. We all love "best of" lists. Be it accolades from industry insiders or polls voted on by seasoned travelers, everyone has an opinion on what constitutes the best room, best value, or best experience, and we are all ears. We sorted through some of the popular 2009/2010 lists and compiled a collection of which airlines took top honors. Think of them as the Oscars of travel, only they rate cabin service instead of art direction. Read on to see who took the top prizes -- and what makes them so special.
Virgin America tops the list in both Condé Nast's Reader's Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure's World's Best. Heralded for its excellent cabin service, first-class, business-class and coach passengers alike enjoy in-flight Internet access and personal touch-screen monitors with on-demand entertainment options. Best of all? Affordable fares. www.virginamerica.com
Low fares, reliable flight-time estimates, high customer satisfaction, and corporate responsibility are the key elements of success for Southwest Airlines, winner of the 2009 OAG Airline Industry Award for Best Low-Cost/No-Frills Airline. What's more, every passenger's first two bags fly free. That applies to all 3,200 flights -- more departures than any other domestic airline -- a day. www.southwest.com
JetBlue sweeps multiple categories every year for in-flight entertainment and comfort, and also took home a 2009 win for Top Low Cost Airline for Customer Satisfaction from the estimable J.D. Power and Associates. The airline scores major kudos for complimentary Doritos and chocolate chunk cookies, 100 satellite radio channels, and free wireless access. www.jetblue.com
Competitive fares, personal service, and comfort turns business travelers into frequent flyers on Midwest Airlines, rated number one in overall quality for mid-sized, economy-class service in Zagat's 2009 Airline Survey. The Milwaukee-based airline, which operates 200 daily flights to 36 cities, has received the honor eight years in a row. www.midwestairlines.com
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation 2010 Air Travel Consumer Report, Hawaiian Airlines once again tops the list for highest on-time arrival rate at 86.7 percent. The domestic carrier, also lauded for Bev Gannon's exceptional menu, likewise boasts the lowest rate of canceled flights -- a stunning 0.1 percent. www.hawaiianair.com