Which Airlines Have the Best Quality? Here Are the Top 12 (SLIDESHOW)

For 27 years, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University have annually produced the closely-watched Airline Quality Rating (AQR), which measures and ranks the quality of domestic airlines’ service. Metrics include on-time performance, denied boardings, mishandled baggage and customer complaints.

In the just-released report, which reviews calendar year 2016, carriers achieved their highest score ever in the AQR’s three-decade history. The group scored a -0.95 versus a -1.21 in 2015, an increase of 21.5 percent. (The closer to zero, the better.) Nine of the 12 carriers showed overall improvement, with Spirit Airlines showing the greatest improvement.

In the following slideshow, discover how your favorite domestic carriers ranked!

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All opinions expressed and data provided are subject to change without notice. Some of these opinions may not be appropriate to every investor.

The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) is a weighted average of multiple elements. Elements considered for inclusion in the rating scale are screened to meet two basic criteria; 1) an element must be obtainable from published data sources for each airline; and 2) an element must have relevance to consumer concerns regarding airline quality. Data for the elements used in calculating the ratings represent performance aspects (on-time arrival, mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boardings, and 12 customer complaint areas) of airlines that are important to consumers. All of the elements are reported in the Air Travel Consumer Report maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation.