These Are the Most Reliable, and Unreliable, Airlines

Believe it or not, Spirit isn't the least trustworthy

American Airlines Embraer ERJ 170-200 LR arrives at Los Angeles international Airport

The last year has been rife with flight cancellations and delays. Last year, 128,934 flights were scrapped from January to July, according to a report from Reuters, up about 11% from pre-pandemic levels. Last month, in just a two day span, Southwest was responsible for cancelling over 5,500 alone.

Operational disruptions happen for a variety of reasons — bad weather, outdated technology, staffing shortages, FAA grounded flights, etc. — but some airlines have continually fared far worse than others. A recent Compare the Market study looked at the number of complaints leveled against the major airlines, how many were remedied, as well as the cause of those complaints — from flight cancellations to lost luggage and more. The findings? Probably not what you’d expect, particularly given Southwest’s apparent lack of complaints in comparison to its competitors.

Below, 20 major airlines ranked from worst to best, according to U.S. travelers:

  • American Airlines: 2,183 flight problems, 6,491 complaints
  • United Airlines: 1,583 flight problems, 5,135 complaints
  • Spirit Airlines: 1,102 flight problems, 3,206 complaints
  • JetBlue Airways: 1,167 flight problems, 2,979 complaints
  • Frontier Airlines: 1,097 flight problems, 2,871 complaints
  • Delta Air Lines: 937 flight problems, 2,851 complaints
  • Southwest Airlines: 963 flight problems, 2,174 complaints
  • Lufthansa: 167 flight problems, 1,796 complaints
  • Air India: 49 flight problems, 1,661 complaints
  • Air Canada: 335 flight problems, 1,292 complaints
  • Tap: 64 flight problems, 1,247 complaints
  • Other foreign airlines: 90 flight problems, 1,246 complaints
  • Allegiant Air: 327 flight problems, 1,139 complaints
  • Air France: 93 flight problems, 1,110 complaints
  • Turkish Airlines: 94 flight problems, 1,009 complaints
  • British Airways: 100 flight problems, 897 complaints
  • Qatar Airways: 83 flight problems, 876 complaints
  • Aeromexico: 101 flight problems, 754 complaints
  • Alaska Airlines: 163 flight problems, 674 complaints
  • Avianca: 44 flight problems, 673 complaints

Of course, it does bear mentioning that American Airlines is the largest airline in the world in terms of fleet size and passengers transported. The more routes, and passengers, serviced — the greater the potential for disruptions and subsequent complaints. Case in point: American offers an average of nearly 6,700 flights daily to 350 destinations, in 50 countries. Alternatively, Avianca offers only 100 direct flights to destinations in 27 countries. In other words, it’s likely not the most reliable airline in the world, so much as an exponentially smaller operation.

That said, 6,491 complaints is a lot of complaints, no matter how you slice it.


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