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Editors' Choice Awards 2011: Best Value Airline - Domestic

by SmarterTravel Staff
Editors' Choice Badge: Value Airline Domestic
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on May 22, 2011. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, baggage, JetBlue, last-minute, low-cost airline, Southwest.

Winner: JetBlue

Which airline irrefutably delivers the best value both during the booking process and once on the plane for domestic travel? This year, the clear winner is JetBlue.

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No other carrier offers the lowest fares time and time again for the majority of routes it flies. Sure, there a handful of airlines—generally the low-cost carriers—that initiate promotions, but within a day or even a few hours, their sale prices are generally matched by rival airlines.

The only airline whose sales are consistently good enough that others don't rush to match is JetBlue, particularly with its so-called "Cheeps," which launched via Twitter last year. No competitor has been as successful at hyping its sales through social outlets, nor has any other airline dared to drastically reduce fares down to $10 one-way on a highly requested route such as New York City's JFK to Orlando. Though the anniversary is over, JetBlue's Cheeps continue to surface with some regularity.

Of course, JetBlue's prices sale prices aren't the only piece from the value pie. Placing value on the overall flight experience, the low-cost carrier's unlimited, higher quality snacks add to the value proposition. What's more, JetBlue's longer and wider seat pitch (leather seats, at that), solid customer satisfaction record, and above-average onboard entertainment options help round out the value picture. And let's not overlook the piece de resistance: JetBlue still doesn't charge a fee for the first checked or carry-on bags.

Honorable mention once again goes out to Southwest Airlines, which takes home our consolation prize for its generous baggage and ticket change fee policies. So why didn't Southwest claim the top spot? The "low-cost king" lost its crown by offering less competitive sales than it did even a year ago.

Editors' Choice 2011 homepage

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