Discover the best domestic airlines in the US of 2023, ranked based on on-time arrivals, minimal cancellations, and exceptional service 🤓

With a new year comes new perspectives on the best domestic airlines. In 2023, travelers have several high-quality carriers to consider for flights within the United States. However, a few airlines stand out from the competition by consistently delivering exceptional service, reliability, amenities, and value.

Delta Air Lines Soars as the Premier Domestic Carrier

For the fifth consecutive year, Delta Air Lines earns the title as the number one domestic airline. Delta’s strengths include outstanding operational performance, great loyalty perks, premium cabins, and leading airport lounges.

The Atlanta-based carrier had the airline industry’s highest on-time arrival rate in 2022. An impressive 83.63 percent of Delta’s flights landed within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. Delta also posted the lowest flight airline cancellation rate among the major domestic airlines at just 1.11 percent.

When it comes to mishandled bags, Delta delivered reliable baggage handling. Just 4.59 bags per 1,000 enplaned were mishandled — far better than the industry average.

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Delta’s SkyMiles frequent flyer program gives flyers ample opportunities to earn and redeem miles. Members can qualify for Medallion elite status, unlocking rewards like complimentary upgrades and lounge access. Delta also has an extensive global network of partners, including airlines in the SkyTeam airline alliance.

On board Delta’s jets, passengers can enjoy some of the airline industry’s best in-flight entertainment systems. Most aircraft offer seatback entertainment screens with movies, TV shows, games, and more. Delta is also outfitting many of its planes with fast Gogo Wi-Fi connections.

For premium travelers, Delta’s outstanding Delta One business class seats, available on most long-haul domestic and international flights, provide a luxurious flight experience. Passengers enjoy lie-flat seats, high-quality meals, premium drinks, and more when flying Delta One.

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Hawaiian Airlines: Top Honors for Reliability

While the Hawaiian Islands are its namesake hub, Hawaiian Airlines flies many long-haul domestic routes too. In our analysis, Hawaiian earns top marks for reliability.

In 2022, Hawaiian maintained a high 81.4 percent on-time arrival rate. The carrier also posted the domestic airline industry’s lowest flight cancellation rate for 2022 at only 0.68 percent. And HawaiianSetName mishandled just 1.49 bags per 1,000 passengers last year.

From a passenger comfort standpoint, Hawaiian offers extra legroom and complimentary meals on most flights between Hawaii and the U.S. mainland. Plus, the airline delivers friendly inflight service with Hawaiian-themed touches.

For premium travelers, Hawaiian’s lie-flat first class seats, available on its small fleet of Airbus A330s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, come with upgraded dining and amenities on routes like Honolulu to New York and Los Angeles.

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Alaska Airlines: A Favorite for Excellent Service

While less of a household name than some domestic airlines, Alaska Airlines finishes near the top in 2023’s domestic airline rankings for its fantastic customer service and widespread route network.

Alaska maintained a 79.25 percent on-time arrival rate in 2022 along with a low 0.80 percent cancellation rate, beating other major U.S. airlines. On both metrics, Alaska scored close to Delta and Hawaiian. Plus, Alaska mishandled bags at a rate of 2.06 per 1,000 travelers last year — second only to Delta for being careful with checked luggage.

Known for having friendly employees, Alaska also tallied the lowest complaint rate among U.S. airlines in 2022. Passenger’s praise Alaska’s employees for delivering caring service flight after flight.

Flyers seeking extra perks in the air can qualify for Alaska Airlines elite status and gain priority upgrades, mileage bonuses, complimentary preferred seats, and access to airport lounges. Alaska also partners with oneworld alliance airlines like American Airlines, opening options to redeem miles for award travel worldwide.

With flights to popular West Coast destinations plus cities across the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica, Alaska gives flyers plenty of flight options with its impressive route map and focus city in San Francisco.

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Southwest Airlines: A Favorite for Low Fares

Despite recent operational challenges, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines retains legions of loyal flyers thanks to low fares, solid reliability metrics and customer-friendly policies like free checked bags and no change fees.

Southwest maintained a 72.62 percent on-time arrival rate last year while limiting its flight cancellation rate to 2.28 percent. While not matching Hawaiian or Delta, Southwest bested key rivals United and American.

Southwest has slowly expanded service to popular ski and beach destinations. By adding new Boeing 737 MAX jets, Southwest looks to offer travelers more options at budget fares.

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JetBlue Airways Stands Out Among Discount Carriers

New York-based JetBlue Airways frequently earns honors as traveler’s top pick for low-cost carriers thanks to amenities and policies other budget airlines can’t match.

JetBlue edged out Allegiant and Frontier last year with a 79.03 percent on-time rating and low 1.63 percent cancellation rate. In the air, JetBlue pampers passengers with unlimited free snacks, seatback TVs, gate-to-gate Fly-Fi Wi-Fi and extra legroom options.

Plus, TrueBlue frequent flyers appreciate accruing valuable points toward award travel to JetBlue’s 100+ destinations in the Americas and Caribbean. Adding fuel-efficient, passenger-pleasing Airbus A220 and A321LR jets, JetBlue seems poised to court more flyers seeking deals without sacrificing comfort.

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The Ultra Low-Cost Carrier Contenders: Frontier and Spirit

While Delta, Hawaiian and Alaska top our 2023 domestic airline rankings, two ultra low-cost carriers — Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines — deserve mention for offering absolute rock-bottom fares that budget-conscious leisure travelers flock towards.

Denver-based Frontier Airlines reported strong financial results in 2022, with ancillary fees from add-on services accounting for a whopping 77% of total revenue. While notoriously stingy with free perks and scoring low for on-time performance, Frontier entices travelers with tempting deals on flights — if you don’t mind paying extra for carry-ons, seat assignments and other basics.

As Frontier adds new Airbus A320 family narrow-body jets configured with new slimline seats, management aims to push pricing lower still to stimulate travel demand among bargain hunters.

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Florida-headquartered Spirit Airlines took a similar ultra low-cost approach before merging into JetBlue in 2023. By unbundling amenities from base fares, Spirit drew in millions who willingly “stripped down” to basics. Though Spirit no longer exists, Frontier strives to capture the same deeply discount-focused flyers.

Yet make no mistake: Flying on an ultra low-cost airline like Frontier involves compromises many find too significant. Slim seats with punitive fees cause considerable flier frustration — and drove Frontier’s basement-level 2023 customer satisfaction scores. Savvier travelers select leading low-fare carriers Southwest and JetBlue to enjoy extra amenities without the angst.

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So while Frontier stretches flyers’ dollars furthest for simple flights from A to B, travelers prioritizing respectable reliability, rewards programs and cabin comfort rightly view Delta, Hawaiian and Alaska as 2023’s finest domestic aviation experiences.

What Savvy Frequent Fliers Seek

When choosing a domestic airline, factors like generous loyalty programs, premium cabins, swanky airport lounges and pleasant amenities make flying comfortable for discerning travelers.

Fliers should evaluate carriers like Delta and Hawaiian that already excel on metrics frequent travelers value. Watch if rivals United and American make inroads on key areas in 2023 to attract flyers seeking elite status perks and first-class treats.

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The Outlook for 2023

As the busy spring and summer travel seasons approach, U.S. airlines aim to build upon 2022’s air travel rebound. Staffing more flights with new aircraft, many carriers look to up their game.

Across the industry, operational reliability will remain top of mind for airlines to earn flyers’ votes as the best domestic carrier. Meanwhile, travelers desire excellent loyalty programs, premium cabins, airport lounges and amenities that make flying comfortable.

Savvy U.S. flyers should watch carriers like Delta and Hawaiian that already excel in these areas while tracking if rivals like United and American make inroads to catch up in 2023.

The Last Word on U.S. Domestic Airlines

No airline is perfect. But savvy consumers can weigh factors like loyalty programs, cabin comfort, onboard amenities, reliability metrics and award redemption value to select the best domestic airline for their unique needs.

By applying TPG’s analysis across 90 rating criteria, 2023’s highest scorers for a top-notch overall domestic flight experience are Delta, Hawaiian, Alaska and Southwest/JetBlue. Though results vary for individual routes and airports, following TPG’s guide helps guarantee your next airline choice is a smooth one!

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