Best domestic American airline.

furious

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Aug 7, 2006
1,012
0
Australia
I would like to know the best domestic American airline. I plan to travel America in the new year and would like to know which is the best in terms of price and service.
 

Lyle

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2003
1,874
0
Madison, Alabama
Be prepared to get a lot of opinions (some conflicting) on this one.

The correct answer is not Delta. :D

I personally like U.S. Airways, but it's been awhile since I've tried some of the others.
 

swiftaw

macrumors 603
Jan 31, 2005
6,309
20
Omaha, NE, USA
When I first started traveling 7 years ago I picked Continental because it flew where I needed to go, I stick with them now because I am a frequent flier and thus get some perks. I would say avoid Delta and NorthWest though.
 

nbs2

macrumors 68030
Mar 31, 2004
2,713
485
A geographical oddity
Be prepared to get a lot of opinions (some conflicting) on this one.

The correct answer is not Delta. :D

I personally like U.S. Airways, but it's been awhile since I've tried some of the others.
Whereas, I would put USA near the bottom of the list. I prefer to fly Continental, but we end up on Delta more than any other airline - they are just too cheap to go with anyone else.
 

atszyman

macrumors 68020
Sep 16, 2003
2,442
1
The Dallas 'burbs
After this experience, I would highly recommend Midwest Airlines. Of course the massive downside is the flight routes. They have hubs in Milwaukee, WI and Kansas City so no matter where you're headed you need to stop in one of those two cities, and many times you are not given a choice.

It's my airline of choice, but, of course, 9 out of 10 flights have us headed to my hometown in central WI so we'd have a layover in the Twin Cities, Chicago, Madison, or Milwaukee anyway.

Price wise most of the airlines are pretty competitive now, depending on your flexibility in traveling you might be able to check out a variety of airlines. If you can use an airline that has a hub at your departing airport it will probably give you the most options for flight times and the best service (more counters, more personnel and better trained personnel).

For example if you were in the Dallas, TX area and wanted to head to Minneapolis, MN and then off to Boston, MA you might want to look into a round trip between DFW and MSP on American and another between MSP and a Boston airport on Northwest. The big hassle here is going to be the return trip. If you don't want to spend any time in Minneapolis on the way back you'll have to allow for enough time on the return trip to claim your bags and re-check through security to catch your next flight (of course this goes away if you're traveling out of a carry-on bag only but for the length of trip you're talking I doubt you are.
 

Lyle

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2003
1,874
0
Madison, Alabama
I prefer to fly Continental, but we end up on Delta more than any other airline - they are just too cheap to go with anyone else.
You know, I didn't really read the OP's question carefully enough, because I was just thinking about which airlines I like (or dislike), without regard for their prices. So Delta may in fact be a good choice price-wise; I've only ever flown with Delta on business, and since I wasn't paying for it, I didn't pay attention to the ticket prices. I just knew I didn't enjoy the flight. ;)
 

shecky

Guest
May 24, 2003
2,583
3
Obviously you're not a golfer.
there is no such thing as the best airline, only what airline sucks the least. i have been less than totally dissatisfied with Southwest and United, but air travel on your own dime* is close to a living hell. pricewise southwest is great; im flying to chicago for the marathon in october roundtrip for $148, including taxes and fees.

* air travel on someone else's dime (business/first class) is better but still not how i like to spend my day.
 

RugoseCone

macrumors 6502
Aug 22, 2002
303
0
I would like to know the best domestic American airline. I plan to travel America in the new year and would like to know which is the best in terms of price and service.
Having been to Australia recently, I can guarantee you won't find the quality of service Qantas offers its customers. My wife and I were blown away by the quality compared to service in the U.S.

Personally I fly American Airlines. They offer lots of flights, prices aren't the lowest, but they are in line with the other major U.S. carriers. The have fare sales pretty consistently and they are a Qantas partner (so if you have a frequent flier account, you'll earn on American). They have "hubs" in Chicago, Dallas, and Miami (not sure if any other cities are as big for them) so you can get anywhere in the U.S. with either no connecting flights or at most one.

I have flown AA almost exclusively the last five years. But I have used United Airlines (they were once my carrier of choice) and they are on par with American. I dislike Delta after experiences flying with them in and out of Atlanta. US Airways I absolutely despise. I find their entire system to be poorly executed all the way down to how they implement their self-check-in kiosks. Southwest I have used once in the last ten years, so I can't comment. Otherwise I have no other recent U.S. domestic experience.

Generally when I'm searching for flights here and can't or won't be using American, I first use Orbitz.com to look at my options and then I'll go to the airline's website and book directly.
 

j/k/Andy

macrumors regular
Jun 5, 2007
197
0
I think that over the short term, you are just as likely to have a good or poor trip with any of the major airlines, so I would go with price and schedule over name.

If your traveling for pleasure and have the time, also consider Amtrak (train) which is generally comfortable but prone to delays, or renting a car and driving yourself, however avoid Greyhound (bus).
 

Stampyhead

macrumors 68020
Sep 3, 2004
2,294
30
London, UK
I second American Airlines. I've been flying with them fairly regularly since I was 16 and have almost always had good experiences with them. As others have said though, the best airline to use will depend on where you are going. For example, when I lived in Phoenix and wanted to fly to Salt Lake City, American was a bad choice because their hubs are in Dallas and Chicago, so I would have had to fly all the way to one of those cities just to get to Salt Lake. Delta, however, has a hub in Salt Lake and US Airways (America West) has a hub in Phoenix, so those would be good choices. Southwest is a fairly good choice overall as they do not have hubs, but I don't like their seating system. Rather than assigning seats its all open seating and the earlier you get to the airport the better your chance of a good seat. Anyway, do some research on airlines that fly between your travel points and chances are you'll have a good flying experience.
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,512
8
Behind the lens
Southwest.

While not flying everywhere, you can choose your own seat, and its based on who shows up and gets their boarding passes first.

Handicapped and small children go on first, and whiny children have to sit beyond a certain row.

Plus, they are most of the time the cheapest of anyone else flying the same route.
 

WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
16,781
1,065
I like United...they've treated me well. I used to fly a lot on US Airways when I lived on the East Coast, but they've completely fallen apart...I flew them in June and just about every aspect of the trip sucked.

My parents love Southwest, but I'm not such a big fan. I really hate the cattle-car lineup that happens at the gate as people try to get the best seats. Good prices though.

JetBlue has a good reputation (when they're not leaving people on the tarmac for 7+ hours). Virgin America looks to be amazing, but they're just getting started and thus don't have a very extensive route network yet.
 

tartsquid

macrumors regular
Jan 21, 2006
110
0
Reston, VA
I've always liked Continental and US Air, but I haven't flown in a couple of years and things may have changed since then.
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
I've always flown on American since they have a small hub here at STL and tend to have nonstop flights to where I'm going, and they've never done me wrong. Other than sitting next to the crapper on a flight, I can't really complain too much
 

adk

macrumors 68000
Nov 11, 2005
1,937
21
Stuck in the middle with you
It depends heavily upon where you're flying.

If You're flying between two large cities:

Midwest Airlines (You'll have to connect, but it's worth it imho)
JetBlue
Virgin America (very new, however, and they only fly between New York/Washington and San Fransisco/Los Angeles)

If you need a large, "Legacy" airline I'd suggest Continental, although their service isn't good enough to warrant paying a large premium over American, Delta, United, US.

Avoid Northwest, as they are experiencing crew shortages at the moment and that has lead to many flight cancellations.

Southwest is often very cheap and the service is OK, but beware that seating is not assigned and getting a good one can be a challenge.
 

kymac

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2006
678
0
portland
well.. i might be a little biased, becasue my moms a flight attendant for them.. but AlaskaAirlines is great. theyre service is mainly west coast / canada / mexico. but theyre expanding quickly. Prices are low, and service is great.
 

jdechko

macrumors 601
Jul 1, 2004
4,080
213
I agree with those that have posted that it depends on where you're going. Delta has a lot of flights to a lot of places, but some don't care for their customer service (it's all I've flown so I have nothing to compare it to), and being from Atlanta, Delta is huge here taking up nearly half the terminals between themselves and their connection-partnered flights.
 

ravenvii

macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
7,583
489
Melenkurion Skyweir
Be prepared to get a lot of opinions (some conflicting) on this one.

The correct answer is not Delta. :D

I personally like U.S. Airways, but it's been awhile since I've tried some of the others.
Ughhhh DON'T use US Airways! They are the absolute WORST you can pick. There is a good reason they are in bankruptcy.

Personally, I like JetBlue, Southwest, and sometimes United for their sheer number of destinations.
 

hayduke

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2005
1,177
2
is a state of mind.
Because the US is relatively large a lot of the airlines focus on particular regions. Rather than trying to use a particular airline, I would simply use an on-line booking agent to find good prices. None of the airlines (IMHO) are terrible. They are all well regulated and essentially equally safe. That being said try,

www.expedia.com

-OR-

www.travelocity.com

Then just pick the cheapest flight for the route of interest.
 

Silencio

macrumors 68020
Jul 18, 2002
2,360
229
NYC
The sooner the old hub and spoke system dies, the better. I absolutely despise layovers: I'll only do nonstop flights unless there's a multi-hundred dollar difference in price.

BTW, Southwest's check-in system isn't completely predicated on arriving at the airport early. If you check-in online early enough, you can get in the "A" line and that generally means you can get a decent seat, though that's where getting to the airport early actually comes into play.

I've done pretty well with Southwest, JetBlue, and Continental. Can't wait to try Virgin America on my next trip to NYC. I'm not a big fan of United, but they're better than Delta and US Air, that's for sure. I have never flown American before, but I will take my inaugural voyage with them in October when we go to Ecuador.