Why Spirit Ranks Last in Airline Quality

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Whenever anyone flies there’s usually a preference for one airline over another, or at least a question of how much quality or convenience is worth in terms of sacrificing for price. This is not a process that anyone really enjoys, and surveys over the years have proved this. The airline industry ranks below most insurance sectors and only just above the cable television industry.

Although airlines might not stack up well against other industries, the question remains of how they rank among themselves. A recent survey from ThePointsGuy.com took on this challenge and evaluated these airlines according to some set criteria.

The study focused on domestic airlines that most people would have a decent chance of flying. So the report is compiled of the 10 largest airlines, as measured by the number of domestic passengers, and excluding regional carriers that partner with one or more of the airlines.

The 10 airlines chosen for the this study are as follows: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit Airlines, United, Virgin America. These airlines were each measured across four broad categories of Price, Convenience, Headaches, and Extras, each with subsets.

According to the survey, Alaska Airlines took first place. Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) is known to run a very good airline and it shows, as the airline placed in the top four in more than half of the criteria: airfare, on-time arrivals, lost baggage, involuntary bumps, customer satisfaction and its frequent flyer program. The only real knock against Alaska is the size of its route network. Alaska Airlines is also in the middle of a merger with Virgin America, but this has yet to be completed.

On the other end of the spectrum, Spirit Airlines Inc. (NASDAQ: SAVE) ranked the lowest of the group. The low-cost carrier finished dead last in four different criteria: on-time arrivals, customer satisfaction, cabin comfort and its frequent flyer program — and second to last in another (unsurprisingly, its baggage and change fees). Spirit does have one thing going for it, cheap airfares.

Keep in mind that none of these airlines is perfect, but some offer a better balance of services than the others. Although price might be an important deciding factor for a lot of people, lower cost providers seemed to rank the lowest in this case.