Virgin America was named No. 1 by the 2016 Airline Quality Rating in the ranking of the nation’s biggest airlines for quality in four key measures.
It is the fourth consecutive year that Virgin America earned the top spot in the AQR, an annual joint study by professors at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University that is in its 26th year. The study factors four areas — on-time arrivals, denied boardings, mishandled baggage and customer complaints — to rank how 13 airlines performed in those measures, using data from the federal Transportation Department.
The rankings were released Monday at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
They also come on the same day that Seattle-based Alaska Airlines announced it is acquiring San Francisco-based Virgin America for $4 billion, including Virgin America debt and capitalized aircraft operating leases.
Alaska was ranked No. 5 on the 2016 AQR, the same ranking it held the year before.
Low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines, which is new this year to the AQR, was ranked last in airline quality.
Other airlines and their rankings in 2016 were: JetBlue, No. 2; Delta Air Lines, No. 3; Hawaiian, No. 4; Southwest, No. 6; SkyWest, No. 7; United, No. 8; ExpressJet, No. 9; American, No. 10; Frontier, No. 11; and Envoy Air, No. 12.