Remember when air travel was a luxurious affair? When even those in coach got a good meal, steaming towel, and had enough legroom to (nearly) stretch out? It wasn’t all that long ago — barely a decade — that the coach cabin experience was gutted, dropping meals and drinks, adding fees for bags and seat assignments, and stripping out basic comforts.
Not everyone thinks this is a bad thing. “While some people see the removal of all the amenities as a big negative, you could argue that it’s really a positive for us as consumers,” says Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Atmosphere Research Group. “Because, ultimately, you only end up paying for the services you value.”
Harteveldt may have a point. Despite all of the bad press in recent years, airline satisfaction is actually trending upward, according to a study from J.D. Power. In fact, by some metrics, satisfaction in 2015 was as high as its been since its peak in 1994. And while flying still ranks below meeting with a mortgage lender (really), it can be a downright pleasant experience if you choose the right airline (a big if).
In light of this, Men’s Journal poured through a dozen recent surveys of U.S. airlines to rank the 10 largest carriers from worst to best. Our hope: Consumers and carriers alike will, as they say at Delta Airlines (#3 on the list), “Keep climbing.”