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Delta Named Best Airline in North America by JD Power

Delta was voted the best airline by Business/First Class and Premium Economy passengers, while Southwest is the best for Economy passengers

by Fergus Cole

May 14, 2024

Delta Air Lines has been named the best airline in North America for both its Business/First Class and Premium Economy products, while Southwest Airlines was crowned the winner in the Economy category in the latest JD Power Rankings.

U.S.-based data analytics firm JD Power ranks airlines yearly based on customer survey results. Recent passengers are asked to rate their carrier on various factors, including in-flight experience, staff interactions, ease of travel, and value for money. 

JD Power’s 2024 North American Airline Satisfaction Study was based on results from passengers who flew between March 2023 and March 2024.

The rankings are split into three main categories: Business/First Class, Premium Economy, and Economy. 

With a total satisfaction score of 743 out of 1,000, Delta was named the best airline by Business/First Class passengers for the first time in three years, reclaiming the top spot from JetBlue. 

Photo: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta’s premium cabin – Delta One – has been hugely successful this last year, with revenue from its premium offering outpacing economy class in recent months.

JetBlue’s well-renowned premium experience – Mint – was still rated highly by passengers despite falling to second place, with an above-average satisfaction score of 736 out of 1,000. 

All five other airlines with a business or first class offering received below-average scores, with Air Canada coming to the bottom of the pile with a score of just 629.

Best Business/First Class North America:

1Delta Air Lines743
3United Airlines698
4Alaska Airlines695
5American Airlines676
6Air Canada629

Delta also ranked first in the Premium Economy category, maintaining its position from the 2023 rankings, with a total score of 716 out of 1,000. 

In second place was Alaska Airlines, with a score of 687, closely followed by American Airlines, with a score of 684. 

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

JetBlue did not receive as high a rating for its premium economy offering, scoring slightly below average, while Air Canada was once again rated as the worst airline, scoring 628.

Best Premium Economy North America:

1Delta Air Lines716
2Alaska Airlines687
3American Airlines684
6United Airlines641
7Air Canada628

In the Economy or Basic Economy class category, low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines was rated as the best. The airline managed to recover well from the 2022 holiday meltdown that left thousands of customers stranded and damaged its reputation. 

Photo: Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Following the debacle, the Dallas-based airline invested over a billion dollars into its operations, which helped it to retain its position as North America’s favorite economy airline. According to data from FlightAware, Southwest only canceled 0.8% of its flights between March 1st, 2023, and February 29th, 2024, showing a significant improvement from the previous year.

Delta also performed well in the Economy category, coming in second place with a score of 651. On the other hand, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines was rated as the worst, with a fairly disappointing score of 472.

Best Economy cabins North America:

1Southwest Airlines685
2Delta Air Lines651
3Allegiant Air633
4Alaska Airlines630
6American Airlines611
8United Airlines585
9Air Canada542
10Spirit Airlines507
11Frontier Airlines472

Michael Taylor, the senior director of travel, hospitality, retail, and customer service at JD Power, stated that heavy recruitment and investments in staff training were major factors behind the success of this year’s best-rated airlines. For example, Delta recently reported that around a third of its employees have joined the airline in the last three years.

Photo: Courtesy of Denver International Airport.

“There are many aspects to the overall air travel experience that airlines cannot control, but one area in they can profoundly influence is the positive effect that airline staff has on passengers,” said Taylor. 

“The big takeaway from this year’s study is the power of the people to positively influence the overall flight experience. Airlines that are investing in staff training and recruitment are finding ways to overcome the negative effects of crowded gates and planes simply by being nice to their customers.”