America's Worst Airline?

Each month, the Department of Transportation (DOT) publishes its Air Travel Consumer Report, full of statistics about on-time arrivals, mishandled baggage, passenger bumping, and overall customer satisfaction. While some of the stats focused solely on August, the month detailed in the report, others pulled numbers from the last six or 12 months to give a broader picture of performance.

US News and World Report combed through the report and come up with a slideshow featuring the best and worst major U.S. airlines according to these measures.

Before you read on, take a moment to guess who you think comes out as best and worst.

Ready with your guesses? Here's the list (from best to worst):

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  • Hawaiian Airlines (with great on-time numbers)
  • AirTran (with the fewest mishandled bags)
  • JetBlue (with good ratings overall)
  • Southwest (with the lowest ratio of complaints)
  • Continental (with its best overall rating since 2003)
  • Frontier (with decent ratings overall)
  • US Airways (Based on past performance, did you expect US Airways to be lower on the list? I did. Way to improve, US Air.)
  • American (with the worst baggage mishandling score)
  • Alaska (with overall low ratings, but good on-time performance)
  • United (with the lowest passenger satisfaction score)
  • Delta (with the most delays and passenger complaints)

Is Delta's position at the bottom of the heap related to its recent merger? Does this bode ill for all other soon-to-be merged airlines on the list (Continental and United; AirTran and Southwest)?

The other question this inspires, at least in me, is why aren't I going to Hawaii anytime soon?

Does this ranking jibe with what you've experienced in the air of late? Is there an airline you think offers a better experience than its current ranking suggests?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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