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Find the Stingiest and Most Generous Airlines

Time Magazine has published a list of what it deems the stingiest and most generous airlines—a difficult thing to determine in these days of new and ever-increasing airline fees. The ranking evaluates nine airlines, including Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America, alongside the six legacy carriers. According to Time, Southwest is the “friendliest,” because it doesn’t charge for checked bags, nonalcoholic beverages, or itinerary changes. US Airways is the stingiest, as it charges for nearly everything.

Over the past few months, it seems the airline industry as a whole has adopted a policy of assessing fees for every last thing, a nickel-and-dime approach that has left travelers frustrated, confused, and angry. $2 for a soda? $15 for a first checked bag? But as this list reminds us (and as our own Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees displays in great detail, if I may say so) not every airline has gone all-in on the airline fees. Here are some highlights:

  • Virgin America doesn’t charge for a first checked bag, and drinks and pillows are free.
  • JetBlue charges for a pillow and blanket, but not snacks, soft drinks, and its DirectTV service.
  • Delta and Continental are the only legacy airlines withstanding the industry trend toward first-checked-bag fees.
  • Northwest and American … well, they still give you free nonalcoholic beverages and pillows and blankets.

I admit those highlights get a little weak toward the end (who ever thought we’d be celebrating airlines that still give us free Dr. Peppers?), but that’s the state of the industry as it exists today.

So, which airlines do you think are the stingiest and the most generous? Leave a comment below with your pick and why you chose that airline.

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