Survey says: Southwest is favorite airline, US Airways is least favorite


If it’s another week, then there must be another survey or study that attempts to rank the airlines.

This week, takes a turn at trying to tab the best — and worst — airlines. In its “2008 Readers’ Choice Awards,” Southwest fared the best. The USA’s biggest low-cost carrier was voted the best by readers in nine of SmarterTravel’s 11 domestic “best of” categories.

Southwest topped its rivals in voting for “best value; best customer service; best airfare prices; best routes and availability; most-reliable on-time service; best baggage service; best standard economy class; best value frequent-flier program and cleanest airline cabin.” JetBlue and Continental both finished in the top three in the “best value” and “best customer service” categories.

JetBlue nabbed the top vote in SmarterTravel’s other two domestic “best of’ categories, with readers voting for the New York-based discounter for the “best in-seat comfort” and the “best on-board entertainment” for domestic carriers. British Airways was voted on by SmarterTravel readers for having the “best value” among international carriers. SmarterTravel also took votes on two “worst-of” categories, as well. In those, SmarterTravel’s readers picked US Airways for both, saying the Arizona-based carrier was their “least favorite” domestic airline and that it had “dirtiest airline cabin” among U.S. carriers.

How did SmarterTravel come up with its rankings? The travel site says: “We asked readers to vote for their favorite and least favorite airlines and airports in our first-ever Readers’ Choice Awards and more than 7,000 of you answered. The results are in and we’ve counted your votes to determine the winners and losers – including some surprises. Legacy carriers American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways; and low-cost carriers Southwest, JetBlue, and AirTran all vied for your votes in 16 categories while smaller carriers such as Virgin America and Spirit were rolled in an ‘Other’ category.”

Of course, it was just two weeks ago that Today in the Sky reported on another survey ranking the airlines. That survey, conducted by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, tabbed Virgin America, JetBlue and Midwest as its readers’ top three domestic airlines. Continental was the top legacy carrier in that survey.