Almost anyone would say that Southwest is America’s worst airline. A Christmas meltdown of its network left thousands of people stranded. But think again. The Wall Street Journal just named JetBlue the worst carrier in the country.
In its annual evaluation of carriers, nine were rated. The critical metrics were on-time arrivals, canceled flights, extreme delays, tarmac waits of more than two hours, mishandled luggage, involuntary bumping and complaints. The study was done before the Southwest problems, which shows the weakness of this kind of research. (Check out the deadliest plane crashes in history.)
JetBlue has not been in the news as much for its service, but apparently there is a silent wave of fliers who say their carrier has mistreated them.
This carrier is in the second tier in terms of traffic. The first-tier airlines are American, Delta and Southwest, which have over 100 million customers annually. JetBlue ranks seventh in terms of traffic.
JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) stock has been hammered over the past year. While American and Delta shares have performed a little better than the market (which means they are off slightly over the past year), JetBlue’s stock is off 41%. Its shares have been regularly downgraded, according to Yahoo! Finance. The company recently acquired Spirit Airlines, a deal investors do not like.
Management blamed the low rating on the fact that it flies out of New York a great deal and has a network concentrated heavily in the Northeast. That is a lame excuse for poor service. JetBlue has operated in the same region for years. It ought to have solved its network challenges.
JetBlue is fortunate about one thing. As fliers take to the skies in record numbers, many do not have a choice if they want to get from here to there. They will fly JetBlue because they lack alternatives.
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