I have written numerous emails about airlines, hotels, and loyalty programs. This one just makes me breathless, flabbergasted, incredulous, discombobulated! According to the latest consumer surveys, these are the top US airlines and hotel chains:
3. Alaska Airlines
4. American and Delta (tie)
5. Allegiant (I am in shock!!!!!)
2. Hyatt and Marriott (tie)
5. Best Western
This must be a joke! Any list that has Allegiant near the top, must be an April Fool’s joke!! They are the worst airline I have ever flown (in the U.S.)! And Best Western, mentioned in the same breath with Marriott, Starwood, and Inter-Continental? Almost as surprising as Allegiant, and holding up the rear is, as always, the despicable, depressing, and dispiriting, Spirit. Some Best Westerns, in places like Salt Lake, and Disneyland can be fairly good.
In the air, JetBlue has their fair share of problems. They have deviated from their original budget minded charter, and gone totally bonkers with a “refreshing” first class called Mint. This service offers first class seats, early boarding, first bag to carousel, entertainment, and food. Best of all, JetBlue remains one of the few airlines that does not overbook! I flew them numerous times to and from Oakland and Long Beach. Invariably, it was always late!
Overall, when it comes to airlines, this year consumers say they were happier with on-time arrivals, were generally satisfied with how easy it is to book air travel (and how user-friendly airline websites are today) as well as the check in process. In general, they were also happy with the helpfulness of cabin crew, except for the latest episodes of bad service.
“Airlines have made strides to improve on-time arrivals and in-flight meals, plus lost baggage is down,” the report says.
Among the low cost carriers, I thought Aer Lingus was above average. I flew coach from SFO to Dublin, and Business Class on the way back. The coach trip was “acceptable” neither good nor bad. And the Business Class was comparable to most U.S. based airlines’ business class.
I used EasyJet to fly from Amsterdam to Berlin and back. Despite hearing horror stories, the flights, though late in departing, were more than acceptable. The tardy flight over to Berlin was countered with free food and drink vouchers from the staff at EasyJet. No reason was given, other than the plane was enroute, and running behind schedule. But no other airlines offered me even a cup of coffee!
And for loyalty programs:
For the best airlines in accumulating and using frequent flier miles, along with perks, Hudson recommends Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Delta SkyMiles, and Virgin America Elevate – all of whom rated highly in a recent travel rewards survey by U.S. News.
“They were rated as the top five frequent flier programs in the business,” Hudson notes. “They all rate highly in partnerships, accommodations, extra travel perks and more. Alaska is a great option for west coast residents while TrueBlue is the go-to program for East Coasters. Southwest is known for being the ideal for budget-minded travelers and Delta’s miles don’t expire.”