The 3 Best and 3 Worst Airlines in the U.S. for 2024

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Happy couple on an airplane
illpaxphotomatic /

The airline industry is finally flying higher.

After struggling with delays and cancellations during 2021 and 2022, things improved significantly in 2023, according to the Wall Street Journal’s 16th annual airline scorecard.

Problem areas remain, however. The WSJ notes that passengers are still lodging plenty of complaints about airlines, with baggage handling problems and tarmac delays remaining particularly nettlesome.

So, which airlines soared above troubles in 2023 — and which carriers barely got off the ground?

The WSJ’s rankings are based on seven categories of data:

  • On-time arrivals
  • Canceled flights
  • Extreme delays
  • Two-hour tarmac delays
  • Mishandled baggage
  • Involuntary bumping
  • Complaints

Based on this criteria, here are the three best U.S. airlines — followed by the three worst.

1. Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines
Tupungato /

Delta Air Lines finished atop the WSJ rankings for the third year in a row. It’s the sixth time they’ve taken the No. 1 spot in the past seven years.

The airline had an on-time arrival rate of 83%, which was better than all other airlines included in the rankings. Delta also had the lowest rate of complaints and tied for the top spot in the category of involuntary bumping.

2. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines
Philip Pilosian /

Alaska Airlines finished in second place for the third year in a row.

The airline was one of only two — Delta being the other — that was above the 80% mark for on-time arrivals.

Alaska Airlines also finished first in the categories of canceled flights and extreme delays. The airline’s performance in the latter category means its customers were subject to fewer days of more than 45 minutes than travelers flying on other carriers.

Of note, though: The airline’s rank for 2023 was not affected by the January 2024 incident involving flight Alaska Airlines flight 1282.

3. Allegiant Airlines

Allegiant Air
Ryan Fletcher /

Allegiant’s strong performance was largely due to the fact that it did not bump even one passenger from a flight in 2023.

In addition, the airline canceled less than 1% of its flights last year. That was a considerable improvement from 2022, when Allegiant canceled more than 4% of flights.

The worst airlines

Unhappy traveler on plane
PR Image Factory /

Although the airline industry as a whole improved its performance in 2023, some carriers remain in a holding pattern.

The following airlines had a particularly rough year in 2023, finishing at the bottom of the WSJ rankings, which included nine U.S. carriers.

7. Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines
Skycolors /

While it finished third-to-last overall — the No. 7 spot — Spirit Airlines finished next-to-last in the complaints category.

The airline also finished in seventh place in three categories:

  • On-time arrivals
  • Extreme delays
  • Involuntary bumping

8. Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines
Skycolors /

While it finished second-to-last (No. 8) overall, Frontier Airlines finished dead last in two categories — involuntary bumping and complaints.

It also finished next-to-last in the categories of on-time arrivals and extreme delays.

9. JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airlines
Markus Mainka /

JetBlue Airways finished in the cellar of the WSJ rankings for the third straight year, with an overall rank of No. 9.

JetBlue also finished last in four categories:

  • On-time arrivals
  • Canceled flights
  • Extreme delays
  • Two-hour tarmac delays

The airline attributed its poor performance to “congested skies over its New York City hub,” according to the WSJ.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.