As essential as flying is to travel, it has become the most dreaded part of the experience for many.
Between exhaustive check-in policies, hour-long delays, and suffocating seats with virtually no leg space, a plane trip is often seen as a price to pay for the exciting adventure that awaits rather than the pleasant, soul-enriching experience it can be.
That’s exactly what the most powerful airlines in the U.S. market are trying to change as competition becomes fiercer than ever – and, considering the number of passengers these carriers have handled during this past month, it’s safe to assume that major strides have been made in terms of comfort and accessibility.
While the American flying public becomes pickier than ever, it’s always fascinating to explore just which airlines have managed to capture its trust and, consequently, hard-earned money the most.
3. American Airlines
The nation’s biggest carrier just left behind a pretty successful 2023, throughout which it nabbed the title of one of the best airlines in the world and expanded its services to several exciting destinations.
Now, new reports show that the airline handled some 7.8 million passengers across more than 71,000 flights during the holiday season, leading us to believe that the carrier’s influence and popularity among the U.S. public isn’t going away anytime soon.
While the company has sometimes stirred controversy among travelers due to its delay rates and problem-resolution policies, one of the main reasons why many flyers return to it time and time again is that the airline boasts one of the most extensive route networks in all of North America.
The carrier’s membership in the Oneworld alliance has allowed it to offer travelers direct connection to destinations most of its competitors don’t service at all.
What’s more, the heavily modernized fleet complete with fuel-efficient aircraft and upgraded amenities has pushed the idea that the classic all-American carrier has some modern twists in store for its customers.
2. Delta Airlines
It’s no secret that Delta has set off to a very successful 2024, and if these recently released numbers are anything to go by, the carrier’s popularity and likeability among the U.S. public will only grow as time goes on.
After being named the most punctual North American airline, Delta is enjoying yet another successful milestone – it handled a whopping nine million passengers over the holiday period, a number that puts the carrier at no. 2 on today’s list.
While Delta has always enjoyed a reputation as an innovative airline with a commitment to operational excellence and passenger comfort, its latest (successive) achievements have elevated the name to unprecedented levels of popularity.
The carrier’s strategic alliances with international partners have helped it further enhance its reach, enabling potential customers to seamlessly connect to destinations beyond Delta’s own (already extensive) network.
Moreover, the introduction of high-speed Wi-Fi, personalized entertainment options, as well as a user-friendly mobile app, have helped tremendously in keeping passengers connected and entertained throughout their journey.
1. Southwest Airlines
A few days ago, Southwest Airlines released a statement on its performance during the holiday season (the data was collected between December 20, 2023, and January 7, 2024).
The numbers were nothing short of remarkable.
Over a 19-day period, the carrier conducted nearly 81,500 flights and served over 9.7 million passengers – the highest figure achieved by a North American airline in this timeframe.
Though the world’s biggest low-cost carrier has been no stranger to traveler complaints and controversies these past few years, its affordable flights and abundant connections to coveted destinations all over the world continue to create a level of value passengers simply can’t say “no” to.
One of the key factors driving Southwest's popularity right now is its transparent pricing strategy.
Unlike many other carriers that nickel-and-dime passengers with hidden fees, Southwest takes a refreshing approach by offering transparent and all-inclusive fares.
The best example of this is the airline's “Bags Fly Free” policy, which allows passengers to check in two bags without additional charges – that’s nothing short of groundbreaking in the current air travel industry.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.