Best Domestic Airlines for Business Travel
In the competition for business-flier loyalty, Virgin America’s focus on a fun, comfortable passenger experience has paid off. It was voted the No. 1 domestic airline in the Best in Business Travel survey conducted by Travel + Leisure and Fortune.
Its winning recipe starts with the pioneering seatback entertainment system, which lets fliers access music, movies, and television channels (including HBO and Showtime), plus order food and cocktails on demand.
Next up: integration with Nest to provide custom temperature controls for each seat. And about those seats: they’re roomy and made of leather, and come with a power outlet and USB jack, making it easier to work. Indeed, survey respondents praised Virgin—as well as JetBlue and Alaska Airlines—for design and amenities.
Virgin’s partnership with the Here on Biz app, meanwhile, lets passengers meet like-minded people on their flight by connecting LinkedIn handles. Virgin also gets points for selling last- minute space-available upgrades to business.
But the best-in-class premium economy is what gives Virgin America its edge, with six more inches of legroom than economy (a full 38-inch seat pitch), free checked bags, and unlimited complimentary drinks and snacks.
It’s this level of service that’s putting pressure on bigger legacy carriers, especially as Virgin America expands this fall with new routes to Dallas Love Field, New York LaGuardia, and Washington Reagan National. —Greg Oates
No. 1 Virgin America
Sir Richard Branson’s innovative U.S. carrier is pioneering in-flight social media via a new touch-screen system that allows passengers to order food or drinks for fellow travelers on the same flight—and then zip them a seat-to-seat text message. —Joe Yogerst
No. 2 Alaska Airlines
If you don’t want to be late, fly Alaska. Four years in a row, the Seattle-based carrier has been one of the top two U.S. airlines for on-time performance. In 2013, more than 87 percent of its flights were on time. —Joe Yogerst
No. 3 JetBlue Airways
JetBlue’s new "Mint" experience includes faster check-in, security, and boarding; free in-flight Internet; and seats that go completely flat, some with movable partitions that form your own private "suite." —Joe Yogerst
No. 4 Delta Air Lines
In June 2014, Delta introduced extra economy comfort perks on its transcontinental service between New York and L.A., San Francisco, and Seattle. The airline also rolled out new business-class cabins with full flat-bed seating for flights between New York and L.A. Look for those same luxurious seats on flights to San Francisco and Seattle in 2015. —Joe Yogerst
No. 5 Southwest Airlines
The airline that dares to be different woos passengers with free checked baggage, genuinely friendly cabin staff, and a Business Select program that features priority check-in, security, and boarding. —Joe Yogerst
No. 6 AirTran Airways
The Dallas-based budget carrier will soon be gone, the result of its 2013 buyout and integration into Southwest Airlines. The final AirTran flight is scheduled for this December. —Joe Yogerst
No. 7 American Airlines
Since its 2013 merger with US Airways, AA is now the world’s largest passenger carrier in terms of both fleet (971 aircraft) and people carried (193 million last year). —Joe Yogerst
No. 8 United Airlines
The "friendly skies" of United Airlines and its domestic commuter wing now extend to 369 destinations, more than any other global carrier. —Joe Yogerst
No. 9 Frontier Airlines
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Denver-based low-cost carrier has expanded to serve 75 destinations in the U.S. and the Caribbean. —Joe Yogerst
No. 10 US Airways
Another carrier destined for the dustbin of airline history, US Airways will cease to exist over the next few years as aircraft, staff, and other operations are merged with American. —Joe Yogerst