Upcoming Airline Quality Rating Announcement to Reveal Best U.S. Carriers

When it comes to four key performance factors tied to customer satisfaction, American-based airlines appear to be heading in the right direction, according to preliminary results of the Airline Quality Rating (AQR), the longest running, most comprehensive study of the performance quality of the 12 largest airlines in the United States.

Full results of the 27th annual AQR, which is conducted by researchers Dr. Dean Headley at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Dr. Brent Bowen of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Arizona, campus, will be announced at 9:30 a.m. EDT Monday, April 10, at a news conference at the National Press Club, Zenger Room, in Washington, D.C.

Key findings so far show that all four AQR factors – on-time performance, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled bags and customer complaints – improved for the airline industry in 2016.

“Some exciting news emerging from this most recent AQR is that airlines are listening to their customers and addressing the issues they care about,” said Dr. Headley, who in addition to co-founding the AQR is an associate professor of marketing research at Wichita State. “There is across-the-board improvement in key factors directly impacting the traveling public’s interaction and experience with airlines.”

This year’s report also reveals the lowest rate of bumped passengers for the industry and the lowest rate of mishandled baggage for the industry since the AQR started in 1991.

The new AQR findings cover the 2016 calendar year and rate the following airlines, listed in alphabetical order: Alaska, American, Delta, ExpressJet, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, Spirit, United and Virgin America (last year’s No. 1 overall airline). In 2016, Virgin America announced a merger with Alaska.

“It will be interesting to see how the Virgin America-Alaska merger will pan out moving forward,” said Dr. Bowen, who in addition to co-founding the AQR is Embry-Riddle Prescott’s Dean of the College of Aviation. “But in the end, airlines with a solid commitment to their customers and those key experiences, like making sure your flight is on time or that your baggage isn’t lost or damaged, will always come out on top.”

As the longest running and most established measure of airline quality, researchers use a combination of performance-based data that allows comparison of actual performance among airlines most used by the public.

To see last year’s results, go to airlinequalityrating.com.

MEDIA INFORMATION: This year’s announcement will be streamed live via Facebook at facebook.com/ERAUPrescott/. Audio and video set-ups will be available via the NPC. Advance interviews with researchers Dr. Dean Headley and Dr. Brent Bowen are available on request. Full results of the new AQR will be distributed and posted online immediately as the press conference starts at airlinequalityrating.com.


  • Melanie Hanns, Director of Media Relations, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; O: (386) 226-7538; C: (386) 283-0753; melanie.hanns@erau.edu
  • Joe Kleinsasser, Director of News and Media Relations, Wichita State University; O: (316) 978-3013; C: (316) 204-8266; joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu

About Wichita State University
The mission of Wichita State University (www.wichita.edu) is to be an essential educational, cultural and economic driver for Kansas and the greater public good. Wichita State is a doctoral research university enrolling nearly 15,000 students and offering 59 undergraduate degree programs in more than 150 areas of study in seven undergraduate colleges. The Graduate School offers 45 master’s and 12 doctoral degrees that offer study in more than 100 areas. Wichita State’s Innovation Campus (http://wsuinnovationcampus.org/) is an interconnected community of partnership buildings, laboratories and mixed-use areas where students, faculty, staff, entrepreneurs and businesses have access to the university’s vast resources and technology. 

You know WHERE you’re going. We help you GET THERE.

Learn more about Aviation @ Embry-Riddle

Add a Comment

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.