Virgin America offers the best quality of any airline in the United States, for the third year in a row. That’s the result of the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) over 2014 released on 13 April 2015, the 25th such yearly review and America’s longest running study of airline performance quality.
The AQR is done and published by the Wichita State University and the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The data collectors see an overall decline in US airlines’ performance, with three of 12 improving compared to 2013. Eight were clearly on the way down when it comes to quality. And by that the AQR means in core areas such as on-time performance, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled baggage and customer complaints.
Apart from Virgin America going steady only Hawaiian Airlines, Delta and Southwest improved their quality according to the AQR.
Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, says the weaker overall performance shows that the recent round of mergers means airlines still have work to do to compete for customer loyalty. “Bigger isn’t always better, and the downturn in performance suggests that customer perceptions of poor outcomes are warranted,” said Headley.
Study co-researcher Brent Bowen, dean of College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Arizona, campus, sees hope. “Delta is an excellent example of a merger that declined in performance and systematically has clawed its way back to a new high level of quality performance. This shows that if an airline commits to improving their AQR rating, it can do it.”
America’s dozen leading AQR airlines are: Virgin America (1 in 2013), Hawaiian (3 in 2013), Delta (4), JetBlue (2), Alaska (5), Southwest with AirTran (8), American with US Airways (9), Frontier (11), United with Continental (12), SkyWest (14), ExpressJet (13) and Envoy/ American Eagle (15).
Source: Airline Quality Rating (AQR)
Featured image: Virgin America has an all Airbus A319/A320 fleet (Image © Virgin America)