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Editors' Choice Awards 2010: Best Coach-Class Experience

by SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Choice Badge: Best Coach Class Experience
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 23, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, JetBlue, legroom, Virgin America.

Winner: JetBlue

What makes a great coach-class experience? Some travelers love free food and entertainment, while others are content with bringing their own munchies and diversions. Taller passengers look for seats that have more legroom; shorter flyers may prefer a little more elbow room. And while customer service is always appreciated, some flyers pass up smiling faces for low ticket prices. In the end, though, the airlines that offer all of these amenities provide the best overall experience for customers.

JetBlue is our 2010 winner for Best Coach Class Experience. Compared to other domestic airlines, JetBlue offers its customers more comfortable seats, ample legroom, and extensive entertainment options. Additionally, JetBlue consistently receives high marks in numerous customer service surveys, such as J.D. Power and Associates' North American Airline Satisfaction Survey and the Airline Quality Report.

We weighed a number of categories that work in unison to create a pleasant flight. First, we ranked airlines by seat comfort. We considered the amount of legroom (seat pitch), which seems to shrink as the airlines squeeze more seats into airplanes. We then looked at seat width, because most people prefer to have a reasonable amount of personal space while flying.

Food and entertainment offerings, both free and for purchase, were also weighed. As the days of free meals are dwindling, airlines that still provide food at no charge are a step above the others. And while most companies are jumping on the Wi-Fi wagon, a few airlines have gone above and beyond with their entertainment options.

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Finally, we looked at several customer service ratings (including our own 2009 Readers' Choice Awards) to determine how well each airline performed at making passengers happy. Customer service complaints and airline performance both contributed to this category, since on-time flights and friendly crews make the traveling experience much more satisfactory.

In almost every case, JetBlue outranked other major airlines, as it has the most legroom across all its aircraft, the most free food options, and the best customer satisfaction. The airline also ranked high in terms of entertainment. In fact, the only category JetBlue didn't outscore the majority of other airlines was in food available for purchase—because all its offerings are free. Given its excellence across all these categories, JetBlue was the clear winner.

Virgin America also met many of the criteria, and so it receives an honorable mention. The airline ranked well in seat comfort, entertainment systems, and customer service.

Your Turn

Do you agree or disagree with our winner in this category? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

See All Editors' Choice Winners

Most Customer-Friendly Airline | Best Free Airline Perk | Best Coach-Class Experience | Best Value Airline | Best Value Destination | Best Hotel Loyalty Program | Best Rental Car Loyalty Program | Best Travel Rewards Card for Domestic Use | Best Travel Rewards Card for Overseas Use | Best Travel Rewards Card for ATM Use | Best Airline Website | Best Use of Social Media | Most Pet-Friendly Airline for Checked Pets | Most Pet-Friendly Airline for Carry-On Pets | Most Eco-Friendly Airline | Best Airport for Layovers | Best Airport for Connections

 
 
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