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VX at the top, Spirit at the bottom

jonjuan

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http://finance.yahoo.com/news/best---worst-airlines-213751145.html


If you?re tired of airline flights that leave you too frazzled to enjoy your trip, we have a new recommendation for you. Virgin America, a newcomer to our Ratings, got a clear thumbs-up from readers in our latest survey, with some of the highest scores we?ve seen in years.

At the other end of the runway was Spirit Airlines. It was at the bottom of our list, with poor scores across the board for check-in, cabin service, and more.

In an era of airlines changing, merging, and inventing new fees, getting the best deal hasn?t gotten any easier. But we?ll tell you how to search for the best fares and what you?ll pay in fees from the major carriers. We also have insights from more than 16,000 readers who told us about a total of 31,732 domestic flights in our survey, conducted in February by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

[More from Consumer Reports: Don't let frequent flyer miles depart without you]

One of the things they told us was that they really liked flying on Virgin America. ?The leather seat cushions are so nice in coach, there?s no reason to fly first class,? says Janice Dunn, who answered the survey and lives in Palm Desert, Calif. The airline, which started in 2007, has recently expanded the number of cities it serves to 21. Its main hub is in San Francisco. It flies to most major American cities, as well as certain vacation destinations in Mexico. And it plans to add Anchorage, Alaska, and Austin, Texas, this spring.

Virgin America says it emphasizes ?top-notch services and a host of innovative amenities.? Cabins feature mood lighting (magenta strips of lights along the sides and violet along the middle of the ceiling), Wi-Fi throughout the planes, and seatback entertainment systems that allow you to order food and beverages, watch free movies and television, play games, and listen to more than 4,000 songs. Our readers gave those cabin services and in-flight entertainment top scores.

Although Virgin America charges $25 each for the first and second checked bags, it was the only airline to get the top score for baggage handling.

Free baggage

Two other highly rated airlines, JetBlue and Southwest, receive high marks for baggage handling. But even more important, they?re the only carriers on our list that let you check one (JetBlue) or two (Southwest) bags free on domestic flights. The free bags help explain why they?re among the top airlines we rated.

Check-in was a breeze on Southwest, and readers enjoyed the staff?s onboard service. But it was dinged on in-flight entertainment, an area where Virgin America and JetBlue (which also offers programming on seatback screens) shined. Southwest offers wireless entertainment on your device. JetBlue outscored Southwest on cabin cleanliness and seating comfort; it gives all passengers a couple of extra inches of leg room compared with most other airlines.

Hawaiian Airlines received high marks for check-in ease, cabin service, and cleanliness. And readers liked the way it handled their bags. Not-so-hot: Hawaiian?s in-flight entertainment.

On the other end of the spectrum, bottom- ranked Spirit Airlines received one of the lowest overall scores for any company we?ve ever rated. ?Spirit is the only no-frills airline left with fares that can be 90 percent less than other carriers?,? says George Hobica, founder and editor of Airfarewatchdog, which tracks airline deals. But it also charges a wide array of fees, including $10 to $19 to book a flight; $3 for a soda, a juice, or a bag of M&Ms; and $35 to $100 per carry-on bag.

Readers were also sore about Spirit?s seats; it has the tightest seating space in the industry. ?I?m 6 feet 1 inch, and Spirit is the only airline I?ve flown where my knees hit the seat in front of me when it was upright, not just reclined,? says survey respondent Paul Barrett, a retired airline pilot who lives in Orinda, Calif.

Consumers told us about other airlines? strengths and weaknesses. Passengers were very happy with Alaska?s check-in, and they liked its cabin staff and baggage handling. But they weren?t so happy with the airline?s seats and entertainment options. Delta and Frontier were awarded very good marks for check-in ease, but otherwise things were mostly middling. Low marks for seating comfort hurt Delta. Lower- rated carriers, such as American, United, and US Airways, all received the lowest rating possible for cabin cleanliness, seating comfort, and in-flight entertainment.

[More from Consumer Reports: Avoid money changing fees when traveling abroad]

Airlines? fees are now coming in packages, whether or not you want all of the services. At American, one itinerary example put Choice Essential at $68, allowing a free flight change, one free checked bag, and early boarding. The Choice Plus bundle, for $88, would provide bonus frequent- flyer miles, free same-day standby and flight-change options, and a ?premium? beverage. Exact costs vary by itinerary. So expect more turbulence ahead given that according to our survey, unexpected fees are a leading cause of dissatisfaction with an airline.

Track down the best fare

You?ll have to shop around a bit to get a good ticket price. As you may have noticed if you?ve flown in the past year, fares are up, rising seven times in 2012 according to FareCompare, a travel-planning website. Rick Seaney, co-founder and CEO of the site, predicts that the trend will continue through 2013.

Work the Web. Almost all of the respondents (94 percent) who booked their own flights did so online. Of those respondents, 59 percent compared fees on other websites before they chose an airline. To uncover the best deal, we suggest you cast that wider net.

Check prices on third-party sites. Expedia, Kayak, and Travelocity may list identical prices for flights, but they have different electronic reservation systems and add and remove fares at different times. Be sure to check airline sites, too, because sometimes they have sales that they don?t share with third-party sites. If you don?t have to book immediately, the airlines and price-comparison sites (add Airfarewatchdog, Hotwire, and Priceline to those above) might let you set price alerts; you?ll get an e-mail or text when prices drop.
 

fam62c

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Spirit making money, Virgin not so much...

Exactly, this just proves what the industry has known for years. The traveling public loves amenities and good service, they just won't pay extra for it. Spirit offers Greyhound bus service at low prices and they make money. VA offers a much better product but they have to sell it below cost in order to get people on the planes. A very small percentage of customers will pay more for better service but the vast majority will buy the least expensive ticket. We will see if VA can prove history wrong by reaching and maintaining net profitability.
 

TheCheat

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Great interview. Imagine that, a CEO that would actually ride the jumpseat. I love that he points out the add-on prices himself before the reporters can. Seems to be one step ahead of them, like "yeah yeah, I've heard it all before."

Still hoping to get a call from last weeks job fair...
 

Smarta$$

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Great interview. Imagine that, a CEO that would actually ride the jumpseat. I love that he points out the add-on prices himself before the reporters can. Seems to be one step ahead of them, like "yeah yeah, I've heard it all before."

Still hoping to get a call from last weeks job fair...

I have had my JB CEO in the jumpseat. Also, as far as the Spirit CEO riding the jumpseat, it is because it is more comfortable than a cabin seat, and he doesn't have to listen to his customers be miserable.
 

nordo_2

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I have had my JB CEO in the jumpseat. Also, as far as the Spirit CEO riding the jumpseat, it is because it is more comfortable than a cabin seat, and he doesn't have to listen to his customers be miserable.

Yup, pax piss and moan about crappy service. The majority wont use their own money to pay for better. Spirit has the numbers to prove it.
 

Smarta$$

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Yup, pax piss and moan about crappy service. The majority wont use their own money to pay for better. Spirit has the numbers to prove it.

So the majority buy tickets on Spirit vs other airlines? Didn't realize Spirit carried the majority of pax in this country.
 

Flyer1015

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Moola
Great interview. Imagine that, a CEO that would actually ride the jumpseat. I love that he points out the add-on prices himself before the reporters can. Seems to be one step ahead of them, like "yeah yeah, I've heard it all before."

Still hoping to get a call from last weeks job fair...

He rode your jumpseat? Next time ask why he's such a cheap b****** to not pay for KCM and instead demand contract concessions to get KCM. Whatever he replies, tell him that money-losing airlines like VX already pay for KCM. Curious to know what his answer is.
 

1.3XVso

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He rode your jumpseat? Next time ask why he's such a cheap b****** to not pay for KCM and instead demand contract concessions to get KCM. Whatever he replies, tell him that money-losing airlines like VX already pay for KCM. Curious to know what his answer is.

KCM is more like a kick in the nads to the union leaders from what i have been told.
 

nordo_2

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So the majority buy tickets on Spirit vs other airlines? Didn't realize Spirit carried the majority of pax in this country.

Me neither. Spirit's success so far in proportion to VA, and to some extent jetblu.
 

kf4amu

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He rode your jumpseat? Next time ask why he's such a cheap b****** to not pay for KCM and instead demand contract concessions to get KCM. Whatever he replies, tell him that money-losing airlines like VX already pay for KCM. Curious to know what his answer is.

Maybe it's something like "The reason we make money is because we don't pay for things like KCM"...
 

Flyer1015

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Maybe it's something like "The reason we make money is because we don't pay for things like KCM"...

That's horsepoop and you know it. Have some self respect and stop buying that line of crap. They make tons of money and KCM wouldn't even put a dent in profits.
 

SMcC

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He rode your jumpseat? Next time ask why he's such a cheap b****** to not pay for KCM and instead demand contract concessions to get KCM. Whatever he replies, tell him that money-losing airlines like VX already pay for KCM. Curious to know what his answer is.

Are you suggesting that the pilot group should demand concessions to get KCM?
 

snap145

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Maybe it's something like "The reason we make money is because we don't pay for things like KCM"...

Yes your high school level Algebra has taught you well young grasshopper...the ONLY reason we have ZERO debt and 400 mil in change is bc the company is neglecting us from KCM...wow that was a humdinger..
The company wants something in return for KCM i.e.. our transition conflict, our four days off, etc...and the union wont budge. People will ALWAYS find something to complain about wether theyre flying spirit or emirates...at the end of the day...my paycheck always clears and the cockpit seats in our A320's feel just as nice as the ones at vx...
 

bri5150

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Yes your high school level Algebra has taught you well young grasshopper...the ONLY reason we have ZERO debt and 400 mil in change is bc the company is neglecting us from KCM...wow that was a humdinger..
The company wants something in return for KCM i.e.. our transition conflict, our four days off, etc...and the union wont budge. People will ALWAYS find something to complain about wether theyre flying spirit or emirates...at the end of the day...my paycheck always clears and the cockpit seats in our A320's feel just as nice as the ones at vx...

But the seat at the gate isn't as comfortable as the second jumpseat when someone is trying to get to work. And the seat at VX is much more comfortable with a nice dinner sitting in front of you. I also find it much more comfortable facing the passengers when they actually enjoy their trip. It is also nice to have a product I am proud of. I also find it nice to not have to work the MEL. I think I have had less than 5 MEL's on all the aircraft I have flown combined since I got here. I would however find it more comfortable to have VX making money.
 

Flyer1015

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Yes your high school level Algebra has taught you well young grasshopper...the ONLY reason we have ZERO debt and 400 mil in change is bc the company is neglecting us from KCM...wow that was a humdinger..
The company wants something in return for KCM i.e.. our transition conflict, our four days off, etc...and the union wont budge. People will ALWAYS find something to complain about wether theyre flying spirit or emirates...at the end of the day...my paycheck always clears and the cockpit seats in our A320's feel just as nice as the ones at vx...

My company isn't making money (as some of you are very quick to point out) yet we still get KCM. And we got a decent raise recently. All while "losing" money. Spirit has the best profitability in its history yet they are giving you the finger.
 
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