If we are frequent travelers but do not particularly like flying, or worse, have aviophobia, we already have a lot in our minds on a regular day on an airplane. We’ve finally conquered our fear, for the time being, and stepped foot on that cold dark tarmac. Ready to ascend the wiggly stairs on wheels, for smaller aircraft, or ready to enter that vacuum-looking jet bridge from the perfectly safe terminal building. Fear or not, there is some level of worry and stress entering an airport and going through the whole process before we are comfortably seated in our window seat with our seat belts safely clicked on. This is doubled, tripled, even quadrupled during the holiday season.
Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, and any other important and popular holiday where you’re from, the story is all the same. It is pandemonium in the airports, in the terminal, and even before all of that, while we try to book a ticket. At least, let us help with the following list of the best airlines to choose during the holidays and ones that we should book as a last resort. This is a list of the best U.S.-based airlines and some international airlines that deliver during the crazy holiday season, and ten bad ones, local and international, that just get worse in this busy time.
20 Worst: Frontier Airlines
If you rate an airline company’s on-time performance for the whole year, Frontier is not bad. In fact, it’s actually in the middle of the pack, having had an on-time percentage of 77.8 from June 2017 to May 2018 as recorded by OAG. Not that bad, but we would avoid Frontier during the holidays for that’s when the number dipped down to 76 percent in December 2017 as reported by OAG. They also have the opposite of the bests from the previous list, like extra charges for carry-on baggage and customer complaints. But if you are stuck choosing from the lot, Frontier Airlines is the better option from those below.
19 Worst: ExpressJet Airlines
ExpressJet is one of the newer airlines in the United States, having been founded in 1986. It is a member of the Skywest Inc. company and is sisters with Skywest Airlines, which by the way, is on this list as well. ExpressJet tends to fly uncommon routes during the holiday season and that’s where they experience delays and other problems. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) measured ExpressJet’s on-time performance in the winter holiday of 2017 as 74 percent. That means at least one out of 4 flights were delayed; not something that we need to fully enjoy our holiday season.
18 Worst: Skywest Airlines
Skywest is an American airline company headquartered in Utah. Being the older sister of ExpressJet, one would think that Skywest Airlines would fare better in terms of on-time performance, but the Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows us otherwise. While they do better with holidays like Thanksgiving (81 percent) and Independence Day (82 percent) in 2017, their on-time performance is December is a red flag for people flying for December holidays. The 72 percent on-time rating in 2017 was actually a leap compared to the three previous years where Skywest Airlines ended at the 62 to 68 percentile starting from 2014.
17 Worst: Aerolineas Argentinas
If we are flying southwards down to South America, we might want to remember trying to avoid Aerolineas Argentinas, especially during the holiday season. Argentina’s official flag carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas stands at a good 77.8 on-time performance in 2017 according to Forbes, but that number plummeted to 69 percent in December of the same year. But that’s not the worst thing about the airline company; they are notorious for not handling customer claims well. Don’t give them the chance to provide a disservice and avoid booking them if you can. It’s just not worth it especially in a time of giving and joy.
16 Worst: Jet Airways
The on-time performance numbers of the airlines this side of the list seems to get lower and lower. Take Jet Airways' on-time numbers in 2017: it was 66.5 percent according to Forbes. If that’s not a clear sign to avoid this Mumbai-based airline company, have a look at their December on-time numbers in 2017 - it went down 10 percent as reported by OAG. It might not be a choice you’d be making in the near future, but when the time comes you’ll be flying Asia, it would be wise to remember that Jet Airways is not as reliable as all the other options out there.
15 Worst: Easyjet
Easyjet may not be as bad as Aerolineas Argentinas and Jet Airways when it comes to on-time performance numbers during the holidays (December 2017 as a sample), but they are not so good either. First off, their year-round on-time performance is not really that good. Twenty-five percent of Easyjet’s flights were delayed in 2017, not very reliable if you ask us. This number goes down even lower to 71.4 percent in December as reported by OAG. The popular British low-cost airline loses its orange shine during the festive holidays and should be one of our last options when it comes to flying over the holidays.
14 Worst: WOW Air
If any of your winter trips involve flying to and from North America, Europe, and Iceland, bear one thing in mind: WOW Air should not be on top of your list. Like most of the airlines in this second part of the article, we won’t see WOW Air in any of Skytrax’s rankings. It is a young airline, only founded this decade, and is one of those low-cost carriers with operations based in the United States. The company’s operations started in 2012 and to date, they fly routes to 32 destinations. It could be never, but if we ever have the need to go to Reykjavik, better check on another airline first, their December 2017 on time was 66.5 percent according to OAG.
13 Worst: Spirit Airlines
It is refreshing to start this item with good news, Spirit Airlines (according to numbers gathered by BTS) is an airline company that learns from its mistakes and gradually improved in on-time performance. From holiday seasons in 2014 of 54 percent, 61 percent, and 67 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively, they are now much better having ended 2017 with a 77 percent on-time rating. We only wish the extra charges could be lower and fewer, but that’s expected of a low-cost airline like Spirit. Choosing a seat on the plane comes with a charge, just forget about the luggage and carry-on fees.
12 Worst: Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air is a low-cost airline based in the United States, just like Spirit Airlines and JetBlue. Similar to the latter, Allegiant Air does well in terms of on-time performance, with 2017 numbers of 77.9 percent and 76.4 percent in December as reported by OAG. This is better compared to the others, but it still means almost one flight delayed in every four in the winter holiday season. Aside from delays in flights, some concerns about the airline company are the quality of their customer service. But like any other new and upcoming company in any industry, Allegiant still has a ways to go and a lot to learn, our only wish is they do it as quickly as they can with no delays.
11 Worst: Iberia
Spain is one of the oldest civilized countries in the world, a known explorer and conqueror throughout history. Their advances in land discovery and nautical exploits were phenomenal, but in this day and age, they seem to have fallen behind in the area of aeronautics. According to Wikipedia, the country’s flagship carrier is Iberia, an airline company with great on-time performance numbers. Their issue is customer claims. From stories of flights getting canceled at the last minute to compensation never received, Iberia is just a headache we don’t want to experience in our downtime and much-awaited holiday season. If only planes were not invented, Spain would still be one of the best.
10 Best: Delta Air Lines
If there is one person responsible for the existence of Delta Air Lines, it was the man named Collett Everman Woolman. According to Wikipedia, Woolman was the main founder of Delta Air Lines, together with three other founders in 1924, almost 100 years ago. Delta has been part of the lives of the American people for almost a century, starting with a flight connecting Texas to Mississippi. Now it flies all over the world every day, and to think the airline giant was just a crop dusting company back in the 1920s before it was acquired. Delta is on this list because their on-time numbers during the holidays are one of the best. They are reliable during off-peak and peak seasons.
9 Best: Southwest Airlines
There is nothing better in a low-cost airline than the service they provide, especially if it’s surprisingly better than their more expensive rivals. Southwest Airlines delivers, not just in cost through much cheaper airfares, but also on several other aspects. They still have the same perks that most budget airlines do not have, like letting two bags of luggage fly free of charge. Their customer service is also worth noting, great service in that area. The airline company’s new colors are (they always have colorful themes) Sunrise Yellow, Bold Blue, Summit Silver, and Warm Red according to their Southwest FAQ site.
8 Best: JetBlue Airways
JetBlue Airways Corporation is another American low-cost airline like Southwest. The company name is known and designed as “JetBlue” with, of course, their famous logo colored jet blue.
JetBlue is proud to be the airline with the most legroom in coach, having at least a full inch of space more than the rest of the others. They also offer the most options to passengers when it comes to soft drinks and snacks. All these you can check out on JetBlue’s Factsheet and one can also get more information about the airline company there. More importantly, JetBlue delivers in terms of on-time numbers and that’s important for passengers in the holiday season.
7 Best: Qatar Airways
The Arabian country of Qatar is located in Western Asia. Its official name is the State of Qatar, its official religion is Islam, and its official airline is Qatar Airways. As the flagship carrier of the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways earned its mark in the industry and made its country very proud. It has been awarded multiple times as Airline of the Year by Skytrax, most recently in 2017. It did not fall too far this year and was just behind top airline Singapore Airlines for 2018. For a company that was just established 20 years ago, Qatar Airways is one of the best internationally and is surely reliable during the holidays.
6 Best: Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is right there at the top of United States-based airlines with the best record for on-time arrivals, or punctuality in layman terms. Playing at the top and enjoying the view below are Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines according to Forbes for the whole of 2017. As a prospective passenger, one would be glad to know that this airline has received very few complaints, and that’s largely due to their punctuality performance. With an amazing 2017 on-time percentage of 81.06, just behind Delta and Hawaiian Airlines, it’s the kind of ranking that very few US-based airlines get included in.
5 Best: American Airlines
Americans and even passengers from all over the world may have experienced firsthand some of the inconsistencies that American Airlines have in their day-to-day operations. These little things that fall through the cracks are imminent for a very large airline company such as American Airlines. Built and established back in 1926, it’s regarded as the biggest airline in the world in terms of the size of the fleet (says Wikipedia), leaving some passengers uncomfortable when they chance upon riding in an older aircraft. But American Airlines is right there behind Alaska, Delta and Hawaiian in punctuality at a 78.97 percent on-time rating for the whole of 2017.
4 Best: Lufthansa Airlines
Lufthansa, the name just rolls right off of our tongue, doesn’t it? The award-winning airline company is based and headquartered in Germany. They got the name from the German word ‘luft,’ meaning air, and the Sanskrit or Latin word ‘hansa,’ meaning guild. Lufthansa is the flagship airline of Germany, and it is a deserving and honored privilege. For the last 2 years, Lufthansa Airlines has been awarded the Best Airline in Europe recognition by Skytrax according to Lufthansa’s website. It is also the first European 5-star airline. There’s no better bet than having to fly European than in the continent’s best airline, holiday or not, Lufthansa.
3 Best: Hawaiian Airlines
There is just something about Hawaiian Airlines that puts most passengers at ease when they fly it. Could it be the soothing colors of the Hawaiian Airlines logo and lettering? Or maybe the always pleasant and always accommodating crew members and the colors of their uniforms? Maybe it is Pualani, the flower in the sky. She’s the Hawaiian lady in the airline’s logo, and she has that calming effect on passengers. It could be any of these, but one thing’s for sure, Hawaiian is the best airline in America in terms of on-time performance and No. 3 in the world at 87.24 percent according to Forbes.
2 Best: United Airlines
The only airline that separates American Airlines from Alaskan, Delta, and Hawaiian is United Airlines. Coming in fourth among US-based airline companies in relation to on-time performance, United sits at a comfortable 79.86 percent. On the topic of flagship airlines, there is no official one for the United States, but it is interesting to note that the previous flagship airline of the country, PanAm, was acquired in part by United, American, and (in large part) Delta Air. This also splits the unofficial title between the three airlines. United is one of the few airlines that have onboard wifi for free according to Cheapair.com.
1 Best: Singapore Airlines
Singapore does not settle with having, far and away, the best airport in the whole world. They get this award almost every year from Skytrax, and consecutively since 2013, that’s 6 years! In short, Singapore’s Changi Airport is and has been Skytrax’s Airport of the Year nine times since 2000. Serving as a hub for Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport’s resident airline does not shy away from its award-winning hub. It is the best airline in Asia and also in the world, receiving the Skytrax Airline of the World award for 2018. There could be no better airline to fly over the Pacific during the holidays than Singapore Airlines, hands down.
References: Forbes, SmarterTravel, MSN, CEOWorld, TravelAwaits