Best & Worst Airlines

The peak travel season has begun, bringing with it crowded planes and higher fares. Consumer Reports has just released its latest airline ratings.

They're based on input from more than 16-thousand subscribers. And the list of complaints is long, indeed.

"I don't like the cramped seats."

"Not on time, rude, not good customer service."

"I do not like paying for luggage."

Fees for checked baggage and limited leg room are among the many gripes subscribers expressed in Consumer Reports' Airlines Ratings survey. The top complaints?

Karen Jaffe of Consumer Reports says, "A full third of survey respondents complained about crowded flights. And a quarter complained about cramped seats."

No-frills Spirit airlines came in last in the ratings, hitting rock bottom on all of the customer benchmarks, including seating comfort, cabin staff service, cleanliness, and baggage handling.

United Airlines, U.S. Airways, and American did slightly better overall, but like Spirit, they got low scores for cleanliness and leg room.

Jaffe says, "There are airlines out there where you can have a more comfortable flying experience. They just may not fly everywhere you'd like to go."

In the ratings of eleven airlines, the highest overall score wen to Virgin America, a separate company from Virgin Atlantic.

Southwest scored high in customer satisfaction, too, as did JetBlue. Both airlines charge relatively few fees.

Some airlines have responded to passengers' frustration over fees by "bundling" services together-for a fee, of course. A bundle might include preferred seating, free checked baggage, and free flight changes. But Consumer Reports says make sure you'll use all the benefits, otherwise paying a la carte fees might be cheaper.


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