Best US Airlines of 2023 – For the Right Reasons

Our Best Airlines study was sparked by another article on customer satisfaction. We had a long discussion here at WT towers and this debate was ignited by the winners of Best US Airline.

Delta Air Lines.

That report was the usual stuff that might concern passengers. Frequent Flyer Program, Cabin Features, Price, and how often they lost your bag.

Fair enough. But who should win the prize for “Best Airlines“. And why? Surely the battle for sustainability should be a factor? And fuel efficiency? And ESG…

Delta B737
Delta Air Lines B737

Is Delta the Best Airline?

We are frequent flyers who have flown Delta Air Lines, particularly on international flights. And we all agreed – which is rare – that if Delta was the only airline in the survey. It still shouldn’t win. But we understand statistics. And we are a tiny sample.

Now the WORLD AIRLINE AWARDS also placed them as the Top US Carrier in their Top Airlines of the World list. Their overall ranking, however, was 30th. Twenty-nine other airlines beat them, including an airline we’d never heard of called Vistara. Delta is also the most expensive carrier, in our humble opinion.

The Good Flight

What transpired next was inspiring. We sat down and we decided the usual parameters are wrong! And we needed to fix them. So, we did. We set out to rate the Best Airlines in the USA based on factors we deemed were the most important.

Our goal was to flip the script away from the passengers – onto the Industry.  We wanted to know who is doing the best job of being an airline. Especially in this new era of sustainability and ESG.

The other article used four customer-focused elements.

  • On-Time performance
  • Customer Experience
  • Cost/Network
  • Loyalty

All very commendable. We would argue against a few of the sub-categories, but otherwise we have no issue with this standard analysis.

Sustainable Best Airlines

What we wanted to do was categorize the best airlines into a Top 10 list of carriers that are worthy of your custom and time. Should you have the choice on your flight.

United Eco skies

Why? Because these are the carriers that are scoring best airline in our Air Travel Categories – with one extra.

  • Airline ETF (Exchange traded fund). Wall St’s way of telling us which airlines are most financially well-behaved, and where your money is at least at risk.
  • Customer Rankings. As rated worldwide, mostly non-US customers. On the planet. At the World Airline Awards.
  • Airline Staff awards. Who served us the best, consistently. Again, rated by the World Airline Awards with the most recognized survey system in aviation.
  • Wichita EDU AQR Rankings. Our favorite of the Best Airlines “standard” rankings. Wichita University Data based performance criteria you can study and check. You can find their full report here. 

So here is the “revised” ranking of the US Top Airlines for all the right reasons.

Ranked Airline
1 Delta Airline
2 Southwest
3 Alaska Airlines
4 United Airlines
5 JetBlue
6 American Airlines
7 Hawaiian Airlines
8 Frontier Airlines
9 Spirit Airlines
10 Sun Country Airlines

Delta Air Lines Still Win.

We know!

But how?

Best Airlines for Reliability

Because they were never outside the Top 3 of all rankings. In fact, the list is virtually identical to the other report, apart from some mid-table swapping, one level up or down between American Airlines, JetBlue, and Hawaiian Airlines. Now we collected a lot of data, we really did.

Delta_Air_Lines 1960

And we made sure those policy apples were compared with those other policy apples. We only went to the most impartial and data driven of sources. And we have given you the links, so go check them out for yourselves.

Or email our very own Customer complaints department. We even added some special sauce, we “weighted” each category, to make sure the more prominent issues (CO2, ESG, Financial) were weighed highest as these are critical issues for the next 20 years.

Delta Air Lines

Even so, Delta still won. We even looked at a few other categories too, searching for data to contradict or invalidate our findings. We were not going to let Delta do this dirty like this. But we didn’t see anything that led us to think otherwise.

For example, we had a trip through staff forums. Even Delta staff rated their employer highly. And did so consistently. We also know the Delta Air Lines organization, as customers of Delta Tech Ops. And from an operational reliability point of view, we know them as one of the greatest non-OEM technical groups on the planet.

You couldn’t be in better hands from an engine overhaul or airframe reliability perspective. As a last resort we called some pilot friends, and they confirmed that the Delta flying program consistently improves and upgrades their pilot training to deliver the best CBTA (competency-based training) in flyingdom. Godammit.

Airports & Seats

We didn’t want it folks. We were hurt. Long flights stuck in the middle seat of those draughty B757’s on the red eye to major airports. Often, we had to form a search party to locate the flight crew when food and water were at life-threatening levels.


But we concede to the results. Data and verified statistics don’t lie. And so, we must remain true to our promise. Of the best airlines at this business we call Airline, in 2022, the best airline is Delta Air Lines.

So, if you have a choice – and one of those choices is Delta Air Lines. Then you have our permission, nae our certified approval, to give them your custom for your future travel air transportation ticketing needs. Just do us a favor, keep an eye on them. United Airlines might have a supersonic aircraft soon. And for that, we are vibing. 

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