Is Alaska The Best Airline In America?

best airline
image: Alaska Air

Alaska Airlines is claiming to be the best airline in America due to a survey done by the Wall Street Journal.

According to their blog Alaska Beyond, Alaska is the best “when it comes to getting passengers to their final destination on time with their bags“.

In the WSJ’s annual Middle Seat scorecard, Alaska ranked highest for the third year in a row. They did the best with on-time arrivals and fewest extreme flight delays & customer complaints.

So why does Alaska rank so high?

According to the WSJ article, “Alaska has invested in satellite-based technology that helps it keep flying in fog and other bad weather in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest“.

So Alaska Airlines is claiming to be the best based on one newspaper’s survey which is judging them mainly based on being on time. Does that make them the best airline in America though?

Since I’ve never flown with Alaska Airlines, I can’t judge them. If you’ve flown Alaska, please share your thoughts about the airline’s overall flight experience.

Find out more about the WSJ’s ranking of Alaska #1 here.

11 thoughts on “Is Alaska The Best Airline In America?

  1. I just flew them today. People were very friendly. Their call center is in Idaho. And they do $25 same day flight changes for everyone. The wifi worked and there was a power outlet at my row 19 seat. And I booked the flight as a British airways award, lol.

  2. First, using JD Power as a measure of success if erroneous as they’re one of the least trustworthy sources for, well, anything. Seriously, take a look at their awards for cars. They have so many categories (“Best Mid-Size Crossover Sedan Hybrid Seating 6 Uncomfortably but 5 Is Okay and Is Painted Yellow”) that it’s nearly impossible NOT to be “best of” something. So just take that award out of the running.

    Additionally, on-time performance is but a small factor. If you have a fraction of routes, planes, and take-offs/landings as other airlines, you have less chance of being delayed. You also have a greater chance of being delayed, technically, but that’s generally less likely to happen. So, that’s not truly a fair comparison against the legacy and long-haul carriers.

    The technology they use to navigate in harsh weather conditions was pioneered and jointly developed by Alaska anyways, to aid navigation in the interior of Alaska during all seasons. So they have an advantage legacy carriers that don’t specialize in flying into the heart of Alaska. So, again, using that as a metric is unfair to other carriers. Would you penalize American Airlines for 0% on-time arrivals of all seaplane-based routes? Or course not, because they don’t have seaplanes. The same (admittedly hyperbolic) logic can be applied to routes that require special instruments.

    Finally, what’s the passenger satisfaction out of cities that have multiple choices? Seattle is a hub, so in today’s cheaper-ticket-wins consumer society, Seattlites will likely be generally pleased with Alaska Airlines, but not necessarily Houstonites.

    I’m generally skeptical of any media outlet conducting research surveys, and this is no different. Plus, I think Virgin America is best, anyway.

    1. The JD Power award is at least (I think) more authoritative than a newspaper article, especially when it is won several years in a row. The particular awards they won were for their loyalty program and for the best traditional carrier in North America. So there are only two real categories in the U.S., traditional carriers (e.g., United, American, Alaska, Delta) and lower cost carriers (JetBlue, Southwest). It is not “best Pacific Northwest carrier that also has a dominant presence in Hawaii and is expanding to Florida”.

  3. Scottrick- Impressive… Thanks for sharing!

    Aaron K- Alaska definitely sounds great based on what you’ve described. I hear what you’re saying about many BA blogs focusing on luxury travel, but we mainly fly coach and I hate champagne!

    DaninMCI- I’d love to see the full article but it was only open to subscribers…

    Jimmy- I like your thinking!

    mhenner- This is definitely good to hear. It sounds like Alaska really cares about the customer. (BTW- This comment, “Many of you guys focus on the fancy features” would not hold true for me- see above.)

  4. Many of you guys focus on the fancy features – first class seating or lying, etc.
    Alaska shines when things go wrong, flights get cancelled, etc.
    They really try.

  5. I saw the bar chart in the WSJ and saw how high Alaska scored but what really caught my eye was how United was at or near the bottom in almost every area. They have work to do I think.

  6. I love flying Alaska, but living in Seattle does make it my “Go To” airline. While I know Boarding Area blogs focus more on who has the fanciest seat or serves the best Champagne in first class, things like friendly service, delays and lost luggage matter more to the majority of travelers. They have a luggage guarantee, where you get 2500 bonus miles if your luggage doesn’t arrive at baggage claim within 20 minutes of the flight arriving at the gate (I’ve yet to be able to claim any bonus points). Most times the flight actually beats the scheduled arrival time. Also, their focus on local NW artisanal food, wine and spirits suppliers is wonderful. They have had WiFi and power outlets before many other carriers did. The seats in first class are still large and comfortable. And I really do feel that it’s people are on average more helpful and friendly than other airlines.

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