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Most Reliable Airlines in the US

Most Reliable Airlines in the US - Top Carrier Rankings 2024 by AirAdvisor

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
11 minutes read
Last Updated: June 06, 2024

Reliability is one of the most crucial factors when choosing an airline. We analyzed the following for 2022 and 2023 to get the all-important AirAdvisor Reliability Score:

  • 8.4 million flights for 1.4 billion passengers
  • Over 792 million bags

And we found that:

  • 477,994 passengers were denied boarding
  • 4.7 million bags were mishandled
  • 1.6 million flights were delayed
  • 132,801 flights were canceled

After our team of 5 skilled researchers compiled and reviewed the data over a period of many weeks, we are finally able to tell you the 3 most reliable airlines in the USA and how the other major US carriers stack up.

Top 3 Most Reliable Airlines in the US

Delta is the most reliable US airline

#1 Delta Airlines - The US’ Most Reliable Airline

If you’re looking for the most reliable airline in 2024, that title is awarded to Delta Airlines for the second year in a row. They had the highest on-time flight percentage - 83.52% (2022) and 84.90% (2023).

Delta also tops the list for the lowest percentage of delayed flights, which you might expect with such a solid on-time rate. This is especially good to know when you’re making plans for activities or events close to your arrival time or booking connecting flights.

Although Delta scored top overall, the airline was steadily in the middle of the pack for mishandled bags in 2022. In 2023, they jumped up 2 spots, showing an improvement in this metric. Delta also ranks among the worst for denied boarding. The only airline that denied boarding more often was Frontier Airlines. We should clarify that although Delta isn’t great for denied boarding instances, the percentages are very small - 0.05% in 2022 and 0.067% in 2023. So, while they may have one of the highest rates of denied boarding, it still doesn’t happen all that often.

Have you been denied boarding due to overbooking by Delta or any other of the top 10 US airlines? If so, check out what compensation you may be owed now.Check Your Flight

#2 Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is the second most reliable airline in the USA

When we take into account all our factors, Hawaiian Airlines ranks #2 in the US. This Honolulu-based carrier definitely excels in handling baggage and is among the best at avoiding denied boarding.

Hawaiian Airlines had the lowest percentage of canceled flights in 2022, but their relatively low scores for delayed flights/on-time percentage keep Hawaiian out of the top spot.

While your flight might be delayed, likely, it won’t be canceled, and you won’t be denied boarding. You’ll also have one of the best chances of getting your bags once you arrive, which is never a bad thing.

#3 Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines is a great option for anyone looking for reliable flights. Their average, based on the data from both years for on-time flights, is 80.74%. For delayed flights, it’s 17.94%. Additionally, Alaska Airlines had the lowest percentage of canceled flights in 2023. Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines has issues with baggage handling and is consistently ranked in the bottom 3, dragging the carrier’s overall score down.

One interesting thing to note is that Alaska Airlines showed the best rank improvement from 2023 to 2024. In our 2023 overall rankings for reliability, Alaska held the sixth spot, so hopefully, this is a sign that things will continue to get even better.

The Runners Up - Spots 4 Through 10

#4 United Airlines 

United Airlines ranks #3 in the list of the most reliable airlines 2022 and 2023

Aside from low scores for canceled and diverted flights in 2023, United Airlines’ position in this reliability ranking reflects the airline’s overall punctuality. In 2023, the on-time percentage was a respectable 79.46%, and flights were only delayed 18.56% of the time.

This airline is also one of the frontrunners for low instances of denied boarding but doesn’t fare as well for baggage handling, where they are consistently below average. In fact, the only airline in 2023 that fared worse for mishandled bags than United was American Airlines.

Overall, United Airlines is reliable for getting you to your destination on time (most of the time), and they tend not to overbook flights, which is what usually results in passengers being denied boarding.

#5 Southwest Airlines

Southwest has the honor of being the US-based airline with the most enplaned passengers for 2022 and 2023. In 2023 alone, the airline carried over 170 million people. So, it’s not exactly surprising that Southwest also handled the most bags of any airline in our study.

You might think that handling nearly 130 million bags in 2023 would be chaotic and result in more bag-related mishaps. But that’s not the case. In 2023, Southwest shares second place overall for baggage handling (tied with Hawaiian Airlines).

Although Southwest’s on-time percentage in both 2022 and 2023 put them in 5th place - matching their overall position - the airline ranks 4th overall for denied boarding in 2023, a significant improvement over 2022. Plus, they took the third spot in 2023 for low instances of flight cancelations.

#6 American Airlines

American Airlines plane

American Airlines takes the sixth spot on our list but actually scores the worst overall for baggage mishandled in both 2022 and 2023. A potential reason for this is that American Airlines offered the most flights, which is a lot to manage. But surprisingly, they did not handle the most bags - that honor, as discussed, goes to Southwest Airlines.

With an average of 78.54% of flights arriving on time, it’s not all bad news with American. If we were to leave out the baggage handling and denied boarding, this airline would actually secure the number 3 spot.

#7 Allegiant Air

Allegiant is the most reliable US airline for handling your bags

Just because an airline is closer to the bottom of our list doesn’t mean it doesn’t do some things well. That’s the case with Allegiant Air. Although they are among the worst for disruptions like flight delays and diverted flights, in 2023, Allegiant Air had the second-lowest percentage of canceled flights. Additionally, this carrier took the number 1 spot in both years for the lowest occurrences of mishandled bags.

#8 Spirit Airlines

It gets harder (although not impossible) to find positive things to say about reliability as we move further down the list. Spirit Airlines has good rankings for diverted flights (second and third-best), and in 2022, they got the #4 spot for mishandled bags. In 2023, though, their mishandled bags percentage of 0.53% kept them below the average.

Spirit’s reliability was much better in 2022 than in 2023. Their on-time numbers of 76.22%, delayed flight average of 21.31%, and low instances of diverted flights earned the budget carrier the #5 spot overall for that year.

#9 Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines is definitely not known as an uber-reliable carrier. That said, Frontier scores relatively well for low instances of diverted flights and has average scores for mishandled bags. The airline’s overall position of second-last tracks with many of its scores in 2023, especially for delayed and canceled flights. The only airline worse was our last-place finisher.

warning

In 2023, 29.93% of Frontier’s flights were delayed. That’s almost one in 3. Also, 2.21% of flights (2,726 in total) were canceled.

#10 JetBlue Airways - The Worst Overall

JetBlue is the sixth most reliable airline in the US

Unfortunately, with any list like this, someone has to be in the bottom spot. Based on our AirAdvisor Reliability Score, it’s JetBlue. First, let’s start with 2022: JetBlue was actually the second-worst airline in the US for delayed flights and, therefore, overall on-time percentage as well. The airline had a dismal showing in 2023 and was the worst in every single category. This includes delayed, canceled, and diverted flights. Luckily, there are some great things to do at most airports while you wait for your flight.

Now for a little good news, JetBlue has a fairly good track record for denied boarding and scored right in the middle for baggage handling issues.

When passengers have their flight canceled by the airline, they often have rights in the form of refunds or compensation. Check your eligibility with AirAdvisor today.Check Your Flight

Changes in Rankings 2023 vs 2024

Sometimes it’s fun to see whether your favorite airlines are improving (or getting worse) over time. Here’s our reliability list for 2024 compared to 2023 and the change in each airline’s position:

Airline

Ranking 2024

Ranking 2023

Change in Position

Delta Airlines

1

1

None

Hawaiian Airlines

2

2

None

Alaska Airlines

3

6

+3

United Airlines

4

3

-1

Southwest Airlines

5

5

None

American Airlines

6

4

-2

Allegiant Air

7

7

None

Spirit Airlines

8

8

None

Frontier Airlines

9

10

+1

JetBlue Airways

10

9

-1

Half of the airlines, including the top 2, remained in the same overall position as last year and the biggest improvement was with Alaska Airlines moving from #6 to #3. On the other hand, the largest decrease was with American Airlines moving from #4 to #6.

AirAdvisor US Airline Reliability Rating - Top Carriers Ranked

 

Total Score 2022-2023
(delayed, cancelled, diverted)

Total Score 2022-2023
(baggage + denied boarding)

Consolidated reliability
score for 2022 & 2023

Points Awarded
(best = 10, worst = 1)

Overall Position

Delta Airlines

87.50

16.00

103.50

10

1

Hawaiian Airlines

58.00

36.50

94.50

9

2

Alaska Airlines

75.00

14.00

89.00

8

3

United Airlines

64.50

21.00

85.50

7

4

Southwest Airlines

58.00

24.50

82.50

6

5

American Airlines

67.50

13.00

80.50

5

6

Allegiant Air

30.00

39.00

69.00

4

7

Spirit Airlines

48.00

18.00

66.00

3

8

Frontier Airlines

36.50

16.00

52.50

2

9

JetBlue Airways

24.00

22.00

46.00

1

10

Criteria and Methodology

To get the most comprehensive result, we knew that it was not only important to look at flights but the instances of mishandled baggage and denied boarding as well. Since each airline handles different amounts of baggage and passengers and offers varying numbers of flights, each of our categories was taken as a percentage.

All our data was taken directly from the US Department of Transportation, and we focused on the whole of 2022 and 2023.

Here’s what went into each calculation based on 8,477,775 flights and 792,459,836 bags:

  • On-time percentage: The total number of flights divided by the number of flights that arrived on time.
  • Delayed percentage: The number of delayed flights out of the total flights offered by the airline.
  • Canceled percentage: The number of canceled flights divided by the total flights.
  • Diverted percentage: Total instances of diverted flights as a percentage of the airline’s total flights.
  • Bags mishandled percentage: The total number of bags reported as mishandled divided by the total number of bags enplaned (put onto the aircraft).
  • Denied boarding percentage: The number of passengers who were denied boarding as a percentage of total flights.

Just because an airline is reliable doesn’t mean you’ll never experience a delay. If you get delayed for 3 hours or more, even flying with the most reliable airlines in the US, compensation may be possible.Check your eligibility today!

Conclusion

Category

Best

Worst

On-time arrivals

Delta Airlines

JetBlue

Delayed flights

Delta Airlines

JetBlue

Canceled flights

Alaska Airlines

JetBlue

Diverted flights

Hawaiian Airlines

JetBlue

Bags mishandled

Allegiant Air

American Airlines

Denied boarding

Allegiant Air + Hawaiian Airlines

Frontier Airlines

As you can see, even if an airline ranks on the lower end overall, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have some good qualities related to reliability. And if you’re curious about how these same airlines are rated for other categories, like comfort, price, customer reviews, and family travel, check out our post on the Top 10 Airlines in the US - Overall Best Rating for 2023.

Allegiant is the best at handling your precious baggage, and Hawaiian Airlines has the overall lowest percentage of diverted flights. Delta excels at getting you to your destination on time and if you’re worried about canceled flights, Alaska Airlines should be your top choice.

Now you’ll know exactly what to expect the next time you board a flight using one of these US airlines, and if you run into trouble, AirAdvisor can help you claim compensation for delayed flights or even get a refund if your flight is canceled. Just know that these types of disruptions are most likely to occur with JetBlue!

FAQ

What are the most reliable airlines?

The most reliable airlines for 2024 based on data from the previous two years are Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. Our AirAdvisor Reliability Score is based on delayed, canceled, and diverted flights, as well as instances of denied boarding and mishandled baggage.

What is the most reliable airline in the US?

Delta Airlines is the best airline to choose for overall reliability. Based on our AirAdvisor Reliability Score, this carrier tops the list in this category for the data from both 2022 and 2023.

How do you determine airline reliability rankings?

The data involved in the AirAdvisor Reliability Score is comprehensive and includes over 8 million flights for more than 1.4 billion passengers. We reviewed on-time, delayed, canceled, and diverted flights to get each US airline’s percentage of total flights in each category. We also used the occurrences of mishandled baggage and denied boarding as a percentage of total bags or flights. The result is an overall score that takes into account every factor related to reliability.

 

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