Best Airlines in the US: 9 Best Airlines to Fly in 2023

by Jon Miksis
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Curious about the best airlines to the US right now? Or wondering about the top carriers to get you around the country? To help you out, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the best airlines in the US today. Here’s what I learned.

If you’re all about exploring the US and craving an unforgettable flight experience, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re diving into what makes some airlines stand out from the crowd. That means looking at service, amenities, and on-time arrivals and landings, among many other features.

Whether you’re jetting off for business, escaping on a family vacation, or chasing adventure with friends, the right airline can take your trip from ordinary to extraordinary. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these airlines. Still, some may have perks that may appeal to your unique situation. Others may put an emphasis on things like reliability, flexibility, or in-flight entertainment. Whatever your needs, one of these awesome airlines is sure to be a good fit for your next excursion.

Disclosure: This article on the best airlines in the US contains affiliate links. As such, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Tips for scoring affordable tickets on US flights

If you’re looking for the best airlines in the US, you may expect the price tag to be a little hefty. Fortunately, I’ve found a few tips for getting great deals on domestic flights, and not just on budget airlines.

For quite a while now, I’ve been using Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going) to get extremely good deals on flights. This is a completely free service that anyone can use for flights both domestic and abroad. Simply make an account, insert your favorite place to fly out of and your desired destination, and start receiving free email alerts, chock full of discount flight deals. 

Scott’s Cheap Flights also has a premium version that costs $49 a year. If you decide to opt for the premium version, you’ll receive emails about cheap flights more often. This opens you up to even more opportunities to save. Some of these deals go fast, so if you travel a lot as I do, it’s worth it to pay for the premium version and snag those tickets that sometimes only drop in price for a very limited time.

I have saved so much money on flights and I know you will too using Scott’s Cheap Flights. And, as an extra perk for readers, you can use my coupon code JON20 to save 20% on your subscription! This is an awesome opportunity to try out the premium version at a discounted price and see the results for yourself.

Best Airlines in the United States: A Guide to Flying Domestic

When traveling within the country, there are a ton of options when it comes to airline travel. From budget airlines to pricier high-end options, you can’t really go wrong. Air travel is the safest way to explore the US and the most convenient for travelers looking to hit every destination on their bucket list in a timely manner. 

However, if you’re looking for an elevated experience, concerned about making it to your destination on time, or just want the best possible experience for peace of mind, here are the top airlines in the U.S.

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1. Delta

A Delta Airlines commercial jetliner
Delta is one of the safest, most trusted, and overall best airlines in the US. | Credit: Matthew Groh

One airline that most people will swear by is Delta. They are well-trusted among frequent travelers and are often ranked the number one airline in the country because of their extensive amenities, timeliness, and overall safety ratings. When seeking out the best airline for your next domestic flight, choosing Delta is a no-brainer.

One of the best features of Delta flights is that every ticket includes a personal item and a carry-on. Choosing a budget flight through another airline may seem like a smarter financial choice, but things like seat selection and baggage fees add up quickly. For short trips where a carry-on bag is more than enough, Delta can actually end up being the more affordable option.

Delta is also one of the most on-time airlines in the country. It’s truly perfect choice for those wanting extra assurance that they will arrive at their destination timely. Traveling for fun is one thing, but when you need to make it to a wedding or a business meeting, flying with Delta gives you that extra comfort knowing you’ll have little to no delays on your journey.

Delta planes are also top-notch when it comes to comfort. Not only are their basic economy seats much roomier than budget airlines, but they always include free snacks and drinks, or even full meals on longer flights. Delta knows that keeping customers happy should be the main priority. As such, they continue to be one of the most trusted airlines in the business.

2. American

A plane owned by American, one of the best airlines in the US, taking off from the runway
For anyone seeking the best airlines in the US, American is always a good choice. | Credit: Jakkrit Prasertwit

Another great option if you’re looking for the best airlines for domestic flights is American Airlines. Similar to Delta, you’ll find American gets you there on time more than most other airlines, and offers plenty of amenities that make the journey a little more enjoyable.

One of the things that makes American one of the best airlines in the U.S. is that they have an extensive network of domestic and international flights. Travelers who fly with American have the option to travel to numerous destinations. And, depending on where you’re headed, there are likely many flights to that location each day. If you miss a flight or need to reschedule, there are no worries. You can get to your destination on the next flight and barely lose any time.

American is also part of a strategic alliance with other airlines across the world. They’re a founding member of the Oneworld alliance. This means your loyalty points are able to be used at many other airlines all over the globe. If for some reason American can’t get you to your destination, there are sure to be plenty of airlines that can, allowing you to get more out of their rewards program.

American ranks very high when it comes to customer service. Their staff addresses needs in a prompt and efficient way, making for happy customers at the end of any journey. They also pride themselves on safety and reliability, making them one of the top choices in the industry.

3. Spirit

A passenger jet with branding from Spirit, one of the best US airlines for budget-conscious travelers
Spirit is one of the most affordable airlines in the US today, with many low-cost flights. | Credit: Tomás Del Coro

Though not an airline that many consider the “best,” just hear me out about Spirit. If you’re in the market for a budget airline that really takes care of you, Spirit is a great choice. While you may be sacrificing your legroom to save a few bucks, and don’t get me started on their extremely-high baggage fees, they’re an airline I’ll choose often when it comes to short flights because the savings is just out of this world.

One thing I’ve noticed about Spirit is that they always seem to have the most upbeat staff. The flight attendants truly feel like they enjoy their jobs, and the camaraderie is felt by the passengers, making the entire experience much more positive.

Another thing that makes Spirit one of the best airlines in the country is that its fleet of planes is very young. Newer planes mean a smoother ride, which is something I can also attest to from personal experience. Safety is their number one priority, and their planes are extremely reliable.

While their add-on options can be extremely expensive, as I mentioned before, I don’t often need them for shorter flights, especially when I’m flying alone. If choosing your seat ahead of time and bringing a carry-on bag isn’t a priority, Spirit is an ideal option. Those savings go right back into your pocket. I know that for a quick journey, I can pack everything I need into a small backpack—considered a personal item—and be in and out of the airport without issue.

4. United

A commercial jet owned and operated by United Airlines
You won’t find a better in-flight experience than the one that United Airlines offers. | Credit: Timothy Powaleny

One of the airlines that strikes the right balance of affordability and comfort is United. They fly to just about every area of the globe, with over 4,000 flights daily to over 300 cities, meaning there’s likely a United flight that suits your travel plans.

United also values the in-flight experience, with most flights offering plenty of amenities, including free entertainment. For flights that don’t include a seatback monitor, passengers are offered entertainment streamed to their own personal devices.

In fact, United offers more free entertainment on a personal device than any other airline does. This makes them one of the best choices for those who love a good in-flight movie. They have also invested in new setback entertainment systems for many of their flights, which is even more ideal since it doesn’t take up your valuable cell phone battery charge.

One reason I love flying United is that they are passionate about environmental issues, committing to sustainability. Their fleet includes fuel-efficient aircraft and they’re currently exploring the world of sustainable fuel to save even more emissions in the future. If keeping our earth green is one of your priorities, United is a great choice for your next flight.

5. Alaska

A plane with the logo for Alaska Airlines, whose loyalty program makes it one of the best airlines in the US
Alaska Airlines’ exceptional rewards system makes it one of the best airlines in the US. | Credit: Adam Moreira

Looking for a best airlines to USA in 2023? This airline is known for many things, but one of the best reasons to fly Alaska is their Mileage Plan loyalty program. It is touted as the best loyalty program in the airline industry, allowing members to redeem miles for flights at a higher rate than other airlines.

They are also part of the same alliance as American—the Oneworld alliance. This allows your points to go even further at any of their partner airlines. It also means a more seamless experience when connecting between flights that are part of the same program, leaving passengers stressing just a little less about their layovers.

Alaska is another airline that continues to promote green initiatives and sustainable options in the industry. They take recycling very seriously and work hard to reduce their overall impact on the environment with each of their flights. While Alaska serves just over 100 destinations, a moderate number compared to others on this list, you are guaranteed a great experience on board.

6. Hawaiian

A Hawaiian Airlines airplane unloading cargo on the runway
In terms of reliability, Hawaiian is one of the highest-ranked and best US airlines today. | Credit: Hakilon

According to recent research on reliable airlines, Hawaiian ranks right at the top. Performance was based on flight diversions, delays, mishandled baggage, cancellations, and even involuntary denied boardings. Looking at each of these metrics, Hawaiian Airlines ranked the highest on each of these, giving them a well-earned spot on this list of best US airlines.

Another tip I learned when reading this research is that Hawaiian is the only major airline that didn’t have any delays on the tarmac between July 2021 and June 2022. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty reliable to me.

With all that being said, Hawaiian is not often the first choice for many passengers because of the limited area they cover. Their network consists of 30 destinations, including Hawaii (of course) as well as popular cities in Asia and the U.S. If you do have a chance to fly Hawaiian, though, I truly recommend it for a high-class airline experience. 

7. JetBlue

A passenger plane operated JetBlue, another of the best airlines in the US
JetBlue is a hidden gem among the best airlines in the US. Don’t sleep on it! | Credit: Adam Moreira

Another airline that’s often slept on is JetBlue. With extra legroom, free Wi-Fi (or “Fly-Fi”) on every flight, and complimentary snacks, what’s not to love? JetBlue is also an award-winning airline when it comes to comfort, attentive crew members, and general passenger satisfaction. JetBlue has about 100 destinations and 25 countries on its route map. It isn’t the most salient airline in the business, admittedly. Still, for many destinations, it’s an affordable and quality option.

Being from Massachusetts, there’s one perk I have to point out that takes my love of JetBlue up a notch. Every flight serves up fresh Dunkin’ coffee, every Bostonian’s dream when they get on an early morning flight. For that alone, they have my vote as one of the best U.S. airlines.

8. Frontier

A jet with the branding for Frontier, one of the best US airlines for those looking to travel internationally
Frontier’s low costs help it stay competitive among the best American airlines. | Credit: Eddie Maloney

A great way to travel on a budget, Frontier offers competitive pricing similar to that of Spirit Airlines. While you’ll experience some of the same drawbacks—less legroom, pricey baggage and add-ons—they’re hard to beat when they’re often hundreds of dollars lower than the competition.

Frontier offers service to over 80 destinations spanning 11 countries. Their hub is located in Denver with focuses on Philadelphia, Orlando, Las Vegas, Tampa, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Trenton, and Phoenix. This makes this best USA airline a convenient carrier for many Americans.

While Frontier hasn’t always been known for its great customer service, they’ve been committed to addressing issues and improving the experience for passengers over the past few years. With the focus being more on customer satisfaction, I can say the difference is truly noticeable. If you’ve had a bad experience in the past with Frontier, hesitation is understandable, but with these new improvements, I think it’s worth another shot. Frontier has really become one of the best airlines in the country.

9. Southwest

A commercial jet bearing the distinctive colors of Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is a top pick for many travelers due to its high level of customer satisfaction. | Credit: Acroterion

This is one of the best airlines to the US by far.

Often a first choice for those traveling for long periods of time, Southwest Airlines passengers can take advantage of an extensive bag policy. Each Southwest ticket includes a personal item, a carry-on bag, and two checked bags. This makes it ideal for travelers who have a lot to bring along on the journey. This is also a great choice for parents who need to bring diapers, toys, strollers, and other items to ensure their child is comfortable on the trip without paying hefty baggage fees.

Not only are they known for policies that give extra value to the customer, but they are also ranked one of the most reliable airlines. They’re also one of the best airlines in the US when it comes to customer support. In fact, with low fares and a great rewards program, Southwest is easily one of the most loved airlines in the US.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best airlines in the US

When looking at the best airlines in the US, it’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re looking for. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the best airlines in the US.

What is the best airline in the USA?

If you’re a wanderlust traveler like me, the question of the best airline to fly to the US is practically impossible! However, after years of flying to most states across the US, here are my top picks.

One airline that deserves a standing ovation is JetBlue Airways. Imagine soaring through the fluffy clouds while enjoying unlimited snacks, complimentary Wi-Fi, and oh-so-comfortable seats. With their friendly crew and a delightful array of in-flight entertainment options, JetBlue manages to turn an ordinary flight into a sky-high fiesta!

But wait, there’s more! Alaska Airlines steals the show with its captivating blend of top-notch service, cozy cabins, and delicious regional cuisine. From the majestic peaks of Alaska to the sunny shores of California, their diverse route network ensures your wanderlust is satisfied while keeping you pampered with their warm hospitality.

Remember, the best airline in the USA is a subjective choice, but these high-flyers surely add some extra oomph to your journey. So buckle up, embrace the adventure, and let the wings of the USA’s finest carriers carry you to new heights of travel euphoria!

What airlines offer baggage for no extra cost?

One of the best airline perks is when baggage is included in the cost of your ticket. That’s a good reason to opt for a higher-end option when it comes to booking a flight. When it comes to free baggage, there’s only one airline that offers all baggage at absolutely no cost—Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines allows you to bring one personal item, one carry-on, and up to two checked bags at no extra cost to you on any Southwest flight. Golf bags and skis also count toward your checked bags, as long as they fall within the weight limit.

While Southwest is the only airline to offer completely free checked bags, plenty of airlines also offer carry-on bags at no extra charge for all ticket types, including basic economy. These are Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines.

There are also other airlines that offer free carry-ons with some ticket options—anything higher than basic economy. Some of these airlines are Frontier and United.

View of a jet wing over clouds from a window-seat
There’s no better view than the one you get when traveling with the best airlines in the US.

What is the best airline to fly to America with?

When it comes to visiting the land of stars and stripes, one airline that stands out is Emirates. Prepare to be enchanted as you step aboard their luxurious aircraft and experience their world-class service. It’s one of the top business class airlines, hands down.

Emirates boasts an extensive route network, connecting travelers from around the globe to multiple destinations across the United States. With spacious cabins, comfortable seats, and cutting-edge in-flight entertainment, the journey becomes as delightful as the destination itself.

But that’s not all! Emirates is renowned for its renowned hospitality, offering delectable cuisine inspired by flavors from around the world. From the moment you step foot on their aircraft, you’ll be treated to warm smiles and impeccable service from their attentive crew.

Moreover, Emirates’ state-of-the-art hub in Dubai provides seamless connections, making your journey to America smooth and hassle-free. So buckle up and prepare for a remarkable voyage as Emirates takes you to the heart of America with style, comfort, and unparalleled service. It’s easy to see why Emirates is among the best airlines to USA.

What are the big 4 airlines?

The U.S. “Big 4” Airlines are:

  • United Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Southwest Airlines

These airlines carry the most passengers each year and are among the most popular with travelers. Each one offers high-quality amenities and routes to some of the biggest tourist hotspots worldwide.

How can I save even more money on the best airlines in the US?

Some of the best airlines in the US can also be the most expensive—but not if you’re using Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going). This website is one of the best little-known secrets of the travel world. It’s a website that lets you sign up to receive free email alerts with wildly inexpensive airline tickets.

Thanks to mistake fares and random limited-time discounts, you can save anywhere from 40-90% on flights with the help of Scott’s. While the free option is terrific, you can also opt for a premium account. This will send you even more email alerts, making sure you get those tickets before the prices shoot up again. The premium version costs just $49 a year. What’s more, you can get an even bigger discount—use coupon code JON20 to save 20%.

A low-angle view of a passenger jet flying overhead
From luxury brands to budget carriers, the best airlines in the US offer something for everyone.

Which US airline is the safest?

One US airline consistently stands tall in terms of safety: Delta Air Lines. With an impeccable track record and a commitment to passenger well-being, Delta has earned its reputation as one of the safest airlines in the United States.

Delta boasts a robust safety culture, investing heavily in regular maintenance, advanced technology, and rigorous training for its pilots and crew members. The airline diligently also adheres to strict safety protocols. This ensures that their fleet of state-of-the-art aircraft is in optimal condition for every flight.

Additionally, Delta places great emphasis on proactive safety measures. This includes comprehensive safety management systems and a strong focus on safety education and awareness. By prioritizing safety at every step of the journey, Delta Air Lines has consistently been recognized as a leader in the industry. It truly offers passengers a secure and reliable travel experience above the clouds.

When is the best time to book my next flight to save the most money?

I have plenty of tips for booking the cheapest flights, but getting the timing right is one of the biggest ways to save money—and one of the most tricky. There’s not always an easy answer to this question. It really depends on whether you’re flying during a peak travel season.

If you are traveling off-season, the best way to book a cheap flight is to wait until the last minute. This might be a little stressful if you have no flexibility in your schedule and need to get on a specific flight at a specific time. For example: if you’re traveling with a group or trying to make an event by a certain time.

However, if you have a bit of wiggle room and there are a few flights that day that may suit your travel plans, you will likely benefit from waiting until the last minute. It’s common for airlines to drop the price when the seats aren’t filled. That way, they can make a little extra money instead of leaving those seats empty and making nothing at all.

If you’re traveling during a busy season, like over a national holiday like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years, your best bet is to book as early as possible. Once you decide where you’re going and what you’re doing, immediately start checking for flights.

Airlines know that people who make last-minute holiday plans will need to get to their destination and take advantage of that high demand. So buying early is the best way to get ahead of those last-minute rate spikes.

For an average flight, I’d suggest looking one to two months out. That’s usually the time that flight tickets are at their lowest.

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