Virgin America is emerging as a clear favorite within the airline industry, adding another accolade to its belt this year after travelers put the carrier at the top of the heap. After topping the 2012 Airline Quality Rating report released last month, more than 16,000 readers of US-based publication Consumer Reports likewise gave the carrier top marks for, among other things, its comfy leather seating and in-flight entertainment system.
Some of the more innovative features out of the airline’s entertainment system Red, for example, include a chat service that allows passengers to strike up a virtual conversation with other flyers using the touch screen on their chairback.
Last month, the airline debuted what Richard Branson described as an in-flight flirting service where passengers can now order drinks for their onboard crush using the same system.
Meanwhile, other airlines that got top nods from consumers of the publication include Southwest, which was lauded for its onboard service.
JetBlue also came out ahead for its in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and comfort: seats come with a couple extra inches of legroom compared with other airlines.
At the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, no-frills carrier Spirit Airlines won the dubious title of receiving one of the lowest overall scores for any company the magazine has ever rated, said Consumer Reports, mainly for tacking on a slew of extra fees such as a $10-$19 booking charge and up to $100 per carry-on bag.
In the Airline Quality Rating, based on figures from the US Department of Transportation, Virgin America posted the strongest performance in baggage handling, at a mishandling rate of 0.87 per 1,000 passengers.
By comparison, American Eagle posted a mishandling rate of 5.8 per 1,000 passengers.
The full report is available in the July issue of Consumer Reports magazine.