Virgin America maintained its position as the best airline carrier in the United States, according to the annual Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report. The company holds the top position for the consecutive year.

Virgin America

The AQR report provides analysis on the performance of U.S. airline carriers every year. The study is conducted by Dr. Dean Headley, the professor at Wichita State and Dr. Brent Bowen, dean of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Arizona campus).

The AQR report is considered as the “nation’s longest running study of airline performance quality” as it already in its 25th year. The study considers four criteria including on-time, denied boardings, mishandled baggage and customer complaints in determining the quality rating if U.S. airline carriers.

Virgin America AQR score

The report showed that Virgin America recorded an on-time performance was 81.5% last year compared with 82.1% in 2013. The company’s involuntary denied boarding performance was 0.09 per 10,000 passengers in 2014, which was the best among the rated airlines.

According to the authors of the study, the denied boarding performance of Virgin America in 2014 “compares favorably” to 0.92% industry average.

Last year, Virgin America recorded an average of 1.14 complaints per 100,000 passengers, which is better than the 1.38% industry average. Its mishandled baggage rate was 0.94 bags per 1,000 passengers, the best performance among all rated airlines. It is also better than the industry average of 3.63 bags per 1,000 passengers last year.

Commenting on Virgin America’s performance, Headley said, “They let people on the airplane – they don’t mess around. That generates a very good baggage handling rate. It’s very low – one of the lowest in the industry. And they don’t have that many complaints.”

Virgin American had an AQR score -0.30 last year compared with -0.32 in 2013.

Hawaiian Airlines emerged as the second best U.S. airline carrier with AQR score of -0.53 followed by Delta Air Lines with -0.60 AQR score.

Overall U.S. airline industry performance declined

The report indicated that the overall AQR score of the U.S. airline industry declined to -1.07 last year.

Only three out of the 12 airline carriers rated by the study achieved improvement in AQR scores including Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Virgin America.

“The decline in AQR score for the industry is a negative sign for consumers. The return of the AQR score to a level seen five years ago does not send a positive message to consumers that see an industry enjoying positive economic times,” according to the report.