The way British Airways sounds like the official national carrier of the United Kingdom, American Airlines certainly sounds like a flag bearing leader for the United States. It’s called “American” after all. Unfortunately, for the airline, it’s now been named as the United States very worst, at least according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal just released their 2019 airline scorecards, and American Airlines placed dead last out of nine airlines, for the third time in five years. They might want to do better than “go for great” and perhaps on going for 8, which would be one place out of last…

WSJ Study Metrics

The Wall Street Journal approaches their airline rankings in a purely statistical manner, based purely on key pain points for customers including: involuntary bumps, extreme delays, cancelled flights, on time performance, mishandled baggage and complaint volume.

They’re not looking at legroom or on board product elements, not that-that would necessarily help American.

According to WSJ, American Airlines ranked dead last in four of the seven categories including tarmac delays over two hours, mishandled baggage, involuntary bumps off flights and cancelled flights. That is not ideal, by any means, nor is the fact that they placed no higher than 6th place in any of the other study metrics.

As noted by the report, American Airlines was plagued in 2019 by employee contract disputes, which made shaky operational reliability even worse.

Of course, that doesn’t justify their bottom ranking in 3/5 previous years.

What About The Other Airlines?

For those wondering about United Airlines, they didn’t fare much better. The airline placed 8th, one above American for second to last, and only excelled in being the second best airline for avoiding involuntary bumps. Perhaps, that’s after they dragged a medical doctor down an aisle to facilitate one, just years ago. At least they learned…

On the other end of the spectrum, Delta Airlines took the top spot, which falls in line with the airlines recent scores in another study by Cirium, which found it to be one of the three most punctual airlines in the world, not just the United States.

Alaska and Southwest placed joint second, further illustrating how these “boutique” offerings have gained such loyal customers, despite having a much smaller route map and schedule.

Alaska managed to avoid one of the largest customer frustrations, with the fewest extreme delays, while Southwest had the fewest tarmac delays over 2 hours.

JetBlue, Spirit and Allegiant all placed mid table with a few notable results. JetBlue placed dead last in regards to extreme delays, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Spirit had the most complaints of any airline. Despite the mid table finish, Allegiant impressively had the fewest mishandled baggage issues.

delta a350GSTP Take

These results are almost entirely unsurprising. Delta has tackled operational reliability – aka on time flights – as a crucial element to defining their brand, and it’s paid off. American Airlines continues to be a cluster-f of mismanagement and United just copies what they do, albeit slightly better.

I find it interesting to see JetBlue mid table, given how loved they are by customers. It’s clear that an added focus on tackling these operational issues could make them a bonafide top airline contender, if reliability could match offerings on board.

I’ve gotta’ tip my hat to Southwest, which continues to be strong on multiple fronts, while operating the only truly “unique” airline in the USA, bucking the trends of competitors.

I think WSJ did an excellent job here, even if American doesn’t agree.

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