American Airlines, part of the largest airline group in the world (American Airlines Group) and one of the big three carriers in the United States, was recently named the best airline in North America by AirHelp, a company that assists delayed passengers by working to get them compensation.
AirHelp annually publishes its rankings of the world’s best-known airlines and ranks them on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the best. For 2018, Qatar Airways was ranked as the best airline overall with a score of 8.23. American (8.07) and Aeromexico (8.07) were ranked second and third overall, respectively, making American the best airline in North America.
AirHelp based its study on three criteria: on-time performance, service quality, and claims processing for delayed flights. Each criterion was given a score out of 10 and averaged out for their final score. AirHelp collects data from multiple sources to have an accurate database, which keeps the data for each criterion organized.
The 2018 rankings are also significant to American for numerous reasons. Not only did American jump from 23rd overall in the 2017 rankings (with a score of 7.84) to second overall for 2018, it also ranked well ahead of its major US competitors. United Airlines (score of 7.66) and Delta Air Lines (7.65) ranked more than 10 spots behind American at 16th and 17th respectively. While both United and Delta both saw improvements from 2017, they were still significantly behind American in their rankings.
The top 10 airlines overall were, in order: Qatar (8.23), American (8.07), Aeromexico (8.07), Scandinavian Airlines (8.07), Qantas (8.04), LATAM Airlines (8.01), WestJet (7.96), Luxair (7.90), Austrian Airlines (7.90), and Emirates (7.80). Not surprisingly, the low-cost carriers, easyJet (5.29) and Ryanair (5.60) were ranked near the bottom of this list. Ranked very last was Thomas Cook (5.26), a British leisure airline.
What is also surprising about these rankings is that many well-known airlines are absent. In most rankings of airlines, Southwest Airlines usually ranks highest in North America, but they are not even on the list, which is likely due to their lack of flights to the EU. In the European Union, airlines are required to compensate passengers for delayed flights, so a lot of their research is based in the European Union.
Recently, American Airlines has been receiving many highly coveted awards in the aviation industry. They were also named a "Five Star Global Airline" by the Airline Passenger Experience Association, which gives a strong reason as to why they were ranked so highly on AirHelp.
American Airlines has been criticized for its service, but according to the AirHelp study, improvement in quality was the primary reason for its significant jump in the rankings.