America's 10 Worst Airlines

We don’t mean to spoil the suspense, but Forbes agrees with us that Atlantic Southeast Airlines (Delta) is the worst airline. They’ve compiled a list of the 10 worst airlines along with information about on-time percentages and baggage handling miscues. We like it.

Here’s the list:

10. Alaska Airlines
On-time performance: 72.8% (eighth worst)
Baggage mishandling: 6.6 per 1,000 passengers (ninth)
Cancellations: 1.2% (15th)

9. Delta Air Lines

On-time performance: 75% (fifth worst)
Baggage mishandling: 6.6 per 1,000 passengers (eighth)
Cancellations: 1.5% (13th)

8. United Airlines
On-time performance: 72.4% (sixth worst)
Baggage mishandling: 5.4 per 1,000 passengers (12th)
Cancellations: 2.1% (seventh) ALT © Tannen Maury/epa/Corbis

7. American Airlines
On-time performance: 69.9% (fifth worst)
Baggage mishandling: 5.8 per 1,000 passengers (11th)
Cancellations: 2.0% (eighth)

6. US Airways
On-time performance: 68.3% (third worst)
Baggage mishandling: 8.6 per 1,000 passengers (seventh)
Cancellations: 1.9% (ninth)

5. Expressjet Airlines
On-time performance: 73% (ninth worst)
Baggage mishandling: 8.9 per 1,000 passengers (fifth)
Cancellation rating: 3.4% (fourth)

4. Mesa Airlines
On-time performance: 72.5% (seventh worst)
Baggage mishandling: 10.1 per 1,000 passengers (fourth)
Cancellations: 2.7% (sixth)

3. American Eagle Airlines (a division of American Airlines)
On-time performance: 69% (fourth worst)
Baggage mishandling: 13.5 per 1,000 passengers (second)
Cancellations: 4.4% (third)

2. Comair (a division of Delta Air Lines)
On-time performance: 66.6% (second worst)
Baggage mishandling: 11.9 per 1,000 passengers (third)
Cancellations: 5.4% (worst)

1. Atlantic Southeast Airlines
On-time performance: 63.3% (worst)
Baggage mishandling: 16.9 per 1,000 passengers (worst)
Cancellations: 4.4% (second worst)

America’s Worst Airlines [Forbes]
(Photo:Keenan Pepper)


Edit Your Comment

  1. IndyJaws says:

    You might check either the ranking or the on-time percentage for Delta:

    9. Delta Air Lines
    On-time performance: 75% (fifth worst)

    7. American Airlines
    On-time performance: 69.9% (fifth worst)

    Not that I’m sticking up for those asshats…

  2. enm4r says:

    Most of the time I am able to fly ATA/Southwest to and from major hubs. In probably 10+ flights in the last two years only one has been majorly delayed, (7 hours for weather, which was legit while leaving, 6.5 hours for plane malfunction on return flight) and I got some free food and $50 off my next flight.

    I’d rather have had my time back, but compensation for their plane malfunction wasn’t a bad touch, and ensured I’d be flying ATA again.

  3. robotprom says:

    how is Airtran not on the list? I’ve rarely had a good experience with them.

  4. BelBivDevolkswagen says:

    Kudos to Continental for keeping themselves off this list!

  5. llcooljabe says:

    Note that the top two are Delta connection: Comair and Atlantic southeast.

    I can attest from personal experience that I will never again fly delta connection.

  6. Fuck Lion says:

    I think it would be interesting to see a meta-analysis done of this data with performance broken down by airport and by specific route. For instance, I have been flying American’s OMA-DFW route at least once a month for the past year and a half, and I’ve never had a delay or a checked baggage problem.

  7. tkozikow says:

    While my preferred carrier out of Dulles is United, I do a lot of business in Atlanta and AirTran offers the best combination of price and schedule. Except for a few weather delays this summer, I have been satisfied with the overall experience. Not sure whether this makes a difference, but I typically spend the extra $50 for ‘business class’ which gets me a bigger seat and decent service.

  8. NoWin says:


    …fondly recalling my flying days back in the early 80’s….I didn’t know America even had 10 airlines left in business (or reasonable facsimile of business) these days.

  9. captainvegetable says:

    Interesting — I usually fly Alaska and have never had a serious problem. Okay, they’re not on time all the time, but for my purposes (leisure travel from San Jose to Portland or Seattle), they get the job done just fine and for an acceptable price.

    That said, based on what I’ve heard about their flights that are longer than two hours, I wouldn’t choose them for a more extensive trip.

  10. jamar0303 says:

    Geez- seems like all the big-name airlines are on the list. I wonder what the top 10 BEST airlines are, though. Certainly Virgin America, for now (who knows, time might change them).

  11. specialed5000 says:


    ExpressJet is (among other affiliations, and operating under their own name) the primary operator of Continental Express flights.

  12. A120 says:

    And this is why I fly Continental whenever possible.

  13. Don Roberto says:

    Southwest and continental all the way. :)

  14. ZekeDMS says:

    I used to work for Mesa Airlines. The standards were entirely minimal, and most employees quit before three months. Supervisors had no airline experience far too often, and lasted no more than a year.

    Oh, and that’s at the main hub, Sky Harbor International, in Phoenix. A week-long training class that didn’t teach anything as it was actually done on the tarmac, and missed most of the key things.

    Honestly, I’m surprised they’re not higher on the list. After one month of working there, I knew I’d never fly them.

  15. alice_bunnie says:

    I’ve only flown once in the last 10 years and that was last month. I was dreading that the only airline that flew into the little town near my brother in Vermont was ASA. I went in with low expectations, however I was pleasantly surprised. We left Atlanta on time and arrived early. The flight attendants were very, very friendly.

    Our flight back was 2 hours late, but it was due to a mechanical problem in Atlanta. However, when they rescheduled the flight, they called our cell phone to let us know. So, we didn’t hurry to get to the airport and didn’t sit in the airport for 2 hours either.

    So, my one and only experience I would rate very, very good. :)

  16. evixir says:

    Praise, praise for Midwest Airlines. My all-time favourite.

    However, how is Northwest not on this list? I’m continually amazed whenever one of their flights takes off on time.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I flew Usairways to Europe a couple of years ago and was not excited, but was ok and I saved some money with them. However, I just tried them again this month and it was a horrible experience. Never again, not worth the savings anymore. They kept anouncing the flight delay 1 hour at a time, and it ended up being almost 6 hours late, which did not make me happy after flying almost 10 hours from Barcelona to connect in Philly into Orlando. The airport in Philly is not structured to handle that many flights, and both times the plane was in the runway, it had to wait more than an hour just for the authorization for taking off. There were 34 planes waiting in line. Very exhausting. The cabins were dirty, little things broken (such as window slatch, earphone outlet, etc…) made me wonder how well maintained the mechanics are. The flight attendants looked like they just got out of bed, and one of them tried to keep my change when I bought a tiny bottle of wine for $7.00. She had kind of an attitude when I asked for it before the plane landed. I am not cheap, but again, I did not think they deserved a $13.00 tip out of a $7.00 purchase. USAIRWAYS NEVER AGAIN. Not even for free. That was the worst money I ever saved.