Southwest, JetBlue Fly High In Zagat Airline Survey

For the 20th year in a row, the people at Zagat have done a survey of passengers on the major domestic and international airlines. And by the looks of it, travelers are much more pleased with the likes of Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin than they are the old-timers like United, Delta and American.

Of the 15 categories in the survey, only two were won by U.S. airline royalty — Continental was the top-rated large domestic airline for premium seating and American was named the best value for international flights.

Meanwhile, Southwest took home five top spots — Best Consumer On-Time Estimates; Best Check-In Experience; Best Value (Domestic); Best Luggage Policy and Best Website.

JetBlue snagged two victories on the survey — Top-Rated Large Domestic Airline (Economy Seating) and Best In-Flight Entertainment (Domestic). Additionally, JetBlue had second-place finishes in the Best Luggage Policy and Best Value (Domestic) categories.

Both Virgins (America and Atlantic) made out well. The domestic upstart was lauded for both its premium and economy seating while the international Virgin won for it’s in-flight entertainment and its frequent flier program.

Mr. Zagat (his actual name; not me trying to be clever) says:

While fliers are slowly but surely returning to the skies, they remain focused on good values and reliable service… Airlines like Virgin America, Southwest, JetBlue and Continental score well with surveyors for precisely this reason.

The full results are over on the Zagat site.

What do you think of these results?


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Really, this is no surprise. SW and JB treat customers well, don’t make you pay for checked luggage, and aren’t always adding some rediculous “fee”. They’re not perfect, but the other airlines SUCK.

    I take that back. Getting sucked is enjoyable.

    All you other airlines, listen up: You want to be on the “good”, and not the “Naughty List” list, SHAPE UP!

  2. azzie says:

    Agree on Southwest.

    Somehow all my travel searches start at and only then, maybe, at expedia or travelocity.

    Check-in, boarding and in-flight are flawless.

    I wish they did not serve nuts (family allergies…)

    • JonathanR says:

      From what I have seen if you tell the flight attendants about the peanut allergies they will switch to pretzels for the rows around you, or if its really bad they will switch the entire plane to pretzels.

  3. Nighthawke says:

    The outtakes are required reading. You can easily tell which airline they are talking about. The people that posted these to Zagat were not pulling punches at all…


    I got a kick at the Son Of Frankenstein reference ;)

  4. Ela Darling says:

    Heck yes. I lost my iPad last time I flew and had given up on it until I got a call a few days later from JetBlue telling me they found it and were ready to ship it home to me. :)

    Love them forever now.

  5. sonneillon says:

    Jetblue is pretty awesome. And reasonably priced. I’ll pay an extra 75 bucks for the legroom, not to have to check my luggage (which can be 50 bucks itself), and to not get treated poorly.

  6. Rocket says:

    I’ve never had any trouble with JetBlue. On that note, avoid USAir, nothing but problems.

  7. Sean says:

    At the risk of going against the tide, I do not have a problem with “deconstructing” airfare costs into component fees IF the total overall costs are equivalent to the previous “all in” fares. i.e. If the cost of the transport + 1 checked bag + 1 carry-on + pre-reserved seat + 1 snack/meal + 2 non-alcoholic drinks + 1 trip to toilet per 4 hours is not higher than before. However, the airlines are using the “deconstruction” to ramp up revenue more than for any other reason. For example, SpiritAir, probably the US airline with the most uncomfortable seats, had a RT fare FLL-DCA for $110 compared to $240 for its competitors. However, when you add in the $35 carry on fee, the $30 checked bag fee, the $25 seat reservation fee, the $3 x 2 drinks fee… You end up with $205 BUT with seats that are 28″ apart (compared to 31-34″ in most airlines), that do not recline and are bolt upright. For anything but short people and flights under 1.5 hours, the trip causes backaches.

    However, the fact that it is cheaper to check than to carry on does have the benefit of quicker embarking and disembarking. I even think that coin operated toilets and drink dispensers would be a good idea to prevent selfish people from staying in them for any more than 5 minutes without consideration for others.

    Put it this way; I would only fly Spirit if 1) the flight is 2 hours maximum, 2) they are the only choice for a non-stop to my destination and 3) their fare is compellingly cheaper despite all the fees. Otherwise, I would avoid them like the plague if I value my comfort.

  8. liz.lemonade says:

    And of course those are the two major airlines that don’t fly out of Hartsfield. *sigh*

  9. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    I concur. The last time I flew JetBlue I was nervous because we took off half an hour later than expected and I thought I’d miss my train when I landed. Somehow, someway, we managed to land on time and I caught my train with time to spare.

    JetBlue will continue to get my business unless they screw up royally. Screw-ups are the reason I don’t fly American Airlines, US Air, Delta/Northwest or United.

  10. SiD says:

    I will always try to give them my money, fly then even if they’re a few dollars more.
    JFK terminal is super nice with free wifi and outlets.

    What I love about them is their inflight TV’s and the simple fact their flight attendants smile and employees seem happy.

    There is a choice people!!!!

  11. Minneapolis says:

    Did anybody read this article with a Chris Farley voice in their head? Bonus points if he was wearing pearls!

  12. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I haven’t flown Southwest yet, although I may do so the next time I fly, because I keep hearing so many good things about them. In order to do that, I’ll have to drive three hours to St Louis. I wish they would come here; my city built a brand-new airport with room for expansion recently.

    A small private airport near here has AirTran, which they just bought, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come here. Let the rich people have that one for their private jets. It’s a nice airport but TINY.

  13. dangermike says:

    I’m 6’5. JetBlue is the only airline that has ever gotten me to my destination without any bruises. USAir, American Airlines, and United all have such short seat pitches and poorly considered seatbacks that I end up physically injured from riding in their aircraft. I think those are all the airlines I’ve flown. And FWIW, United managed to get a tuba across the country without any damage, a feat that was not repeated by American on the return trip when my college pep band took me to an NCAA sweet 16 tournament several years ago.

  14. gman863 says:

    Southwest? No-brainer.

    In Houston, their airport (Hobby, also serving JetBlue and Frontier) takes half as much time to park and get through the TSA reach-around than the “big” airport (Bush) served by Continental, United and Delta.

    With the exception of legitimate weather issues (severe thunderstorms or dense fog), my experience is Southwest’s on-time rate is fantastic compared to Delta or Continental – plus no bull$hit fees for bags or soft drinks.

    Even if the larger airlines are matching their fares, Southwest gets me there faster with fewer hassles.

  15. Cetan says:

    I always fly Southwest. There’s been only once I’ve not flown SW, and it was because they didn’t fly to that airport.

    I got stranded in Denver on a flight to Oklahoma during the 2009-10 Christmas blizzard in the midwest. 2 hours before my next flight, pulled out my laptop, changed my flight online, walked a few gates down to my new flight. No fees, no hassle, no problems.

    Pre-checked kiosks for boarding passes (if I didn’t print them out), no checked bag fees, fun flight attendants, no assigned seating (avoid the fatties and the little kids), and cheap, $50-80 plane tickets for quick hops. Only miserable part is taking my shoes off for TSA.