TODAY

TODAY   |  May 23, 2013

Consumer Reports ranks best and worst airlines

If you’re planning to spend some time high in the sky over the summer, Mandy Walker of Consumer Reports is here to help you know which airlines to book and which to avoid.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're back at 8:40 with "today's" travel and something to consider when you book your get away.

>> out with the new best and worst airlines list. mandy walker is the senior project editor. good morning.

>> good morning.

>> it'll be a great morning for some airlines, not a good morning for others. what are the criteria?

>> we look at a lot of things. we look at specifically how easy is it to check in? how clean are the cabins? how is the cabin crew service. what's the inflight entertainment like? how comfortable are the seats in many cases not so comfortable.

>> you've got a newcomer on the list coming in with a bang.

>> we do.

>> tell us about that.

>> virgin america , first time on the list coming in at the number one spot . people were really happy across the board. check-in was a breeze, they love the air flight entertainment, the screens on the back of the seat that provide free tv and movies too. one woman told me she flew from palm desert , california, and lax and spent the night just to fly.

>> last year's number one fell to number two, that's southwest. is it because they did something wrong? or virgin america was that good?

>> no, they got a high score . number two and jetblue , number three were very close. people were happy with them, as well. southwest, people have to love the fact you can check first and second bags for free, jetblue , you can check one bag for free, which is great. people love jetblue 's seatback entertainment.

>> people wished the inflight entertainment was a little bit better.

>> yeah.

>> hawaiian airlines , another fairly new airline and new to the list.

>> new to our list, expanding the number of cities they serve like virgin america . and when you got to the middle of the pack, hawaiian airlines , frontier and delta, did well, but people were a little less happy with the seating comfort and lack of inflight entertainment .

>> so we've done the good. i guess we have to do the ones that weren't beloved.

>> the ones that were the bottom of the list.

>> spirit airlines . it's interesting, their whole business model is to charge a much, much cheaper price.

>> and they do, yeah.

>> but there are a lot of what consumers consider hidden fees.

>> being charged unexpectedly for a fee, translated to people being very unhappy. and it's true that spirit might charge 90% less on some routes and other airlines, but they have a lot of a la carte fees.

>> we don't just pick on spirit. what were some of the airlines that finished toward the bottom of the pack?

>> u.s. air , american and united. and when you get down to that level, people were a little less happy with how easy it was to check in and the cleanliness of the cabin and cabin crew service.

>> a lot of times it seems people were liking newer planes. sometimes jetblue has a newer plane.

>> and because they've been making so much money on fees, there are new planes coming online, especially a lot of the bigger airlines.

>> thanks. mandy walker , thank you