The Best And Worst Airlines During Coronavirus

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LONDON, - MARCH 17: People wait for passengers in International Arrivals at Heathrow Terminal 5 on March 17, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Several UK and European carriers are reducing staff and practically grounding their fleets as governments worldwide impose travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that coronavirus has thrown the airline industry into a tailspin with record losses and bankruptcies at an all-time high. Some airlines have chosen to put passenger health and safety at the forefront, while others have prioritized their own survival and carried on with a business-as-usual approach. A new study conducted by The Points Guy—a brand that specializes in air travel and frequent flyer miles—reveals which US airlines have done the best job during the pandemic, as well as the ones that have failed. In addition, the report ranks the best and worst airlines for cleaning, loyalty, ticketing, refunds and more.

“A handful of airlines led the way in making it easier for passengers to get refunds or use credits way out into the future. Others have been much more greedy in their approach, trying to hold onto as much cash as possible,” says Scott Mayerowitz, executive editorial director for The Points Guy. “Our staff at The Points Guy has been monitoring the situation ever since the start of the pandemic. This report summarizes months of our experiences, highlighting which airlines have been the most customer friendly.”

best worst airlines coronavirus covid
A new report ranks the best and worst airlines during coronavirus. GETTY

Landing in the top spot is Delta Air Lines, which has had the best response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the travel experts at The Points Guy. Delta ranks highly due to its impressive cleaning procedures—including electrostatic spraying with disinfectant of jets before all flights—as well as deep cleanings of gate areas and jet bridges. Delta was the first carrier to begin boarding back-to-front and is also restricting passenger capacity (50% in first class, 60% in economy). The airline also receives high marks in the study for its ticket flexibility and extension of loyalty status into 2021.

Alaska Airlines ranks second on the list, thanks to its passenger-friendly policies, including providing free masks, limiting capacity onboard its planes and extending elite status to its loyalty-club members.

At the bottom of the list is Spirit Airlines, which receives the lowest ranking of the 10 major American carriers. The low-cost airline ranks poorly due to additional charges for masks, vague cleaning procedures and no efforts to limit flight capacity or protect frequent flyers. Frontier—another low-cost carrier—is the second worst airline on the list.

While many people still aren’t flying, Mayerowitz points out that these results could be indicative of the new normal. “It is going to be several months until most Americans feel fully comfortable traveling like they did before the pandemic,” Mayerowitz says. “This survey highlights those airlines that are looking to win over long-term customers, building relationships for many years of future travel.”

This 2020 airline list is a new, coronavirus-focused version of an annual best-of list that The Points Guy produces; in 2019 Delta also topped the list, while in 2018 Alaska Airlines was number one. “We decided it was necessary to provide a comprehensive comparison on how airlines are operating during a global pandemic, weighing everything from ticketing and refund policies to cleaning and social distancing procedures,” says Mayerowitz.

In creating the new list, the team at The Points Guy ranked the airlines based on their policies to protect passengers, as well as their frequent flyer programs and their cancellation and refund policies. The five categories included ticketing (how airlines have handled changes, cancellations and refunds), cleaning (what steps airlines have taken to ensure cleanliness), on the ground (how airlines have adjusted their ground experience like boarding and check-in procedures), onboard (how they have changed their in-flight experience including capacity controls) and loyalty (extended benefits and changes to loyalty programs).

Read on for the various rankings, including the overall list of best and worst airlines, the best and worst carriers for cleaning, ticketing and loyalty. You can see entire list and read more about the rankings here and also view additional categories, like the best airlines on the ground, the best onboard and more.

Best and Worst Airlines: Overall

The overall rankings of the best and worst airlines during the coronavirus pandemic, include:

  1. Delta Air Lines
  2. Alaska Airlines
  3. JetBlue
  4. American Airlines
  5. Southwest Airlines
  6. United Airlines
  7. Hawaiian Airlines
  8. Allegiant Air
  9. Frontier Airlines
  10. Spirit Airlines

Best and Worst Airlines for Cleaning

  1. Delta Air Lines
  2. United Airlines
  3. JetBlue
  4. Alaska Airlines
  5. American Airlines
  6. Southwest Airlines
  7. Hawaiian Airlines
  8. Frontier Airlines / Spirit Airlines (tie)
  9. Allegiant Air

Best and Worst Airlines for Ticketing

  1. Southwest Airlines
  2. Delta Air Lines
  3. American Airlines
  4. JetBlue
  5. Alaska Airlines
  6. United Airlines
  7. Spirit Airlines
  8. Hawaiian Airlines
  9. Allegiant Air
  10. Frontier Airlines

Best and Worst Airlines for Loyalty

  1. Alaska Airlines
  2. American Airlines
  3. JetBlue
  4. Southwest Airlines
  5. United Airlines
  6. Delta Air Lines
  7. Hawaiian Airlines
  8. Spirit Airlines
  9. Allegiant Air / Frontier Airlines (tied for last, as they don’t offer)

Source: Forbes

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