You want the flight that gets you and your stuff to where you want it to be, and preferably on-time. This is not a common occurrence in recent years.

As passengers return to the skies, airline performance has been sluggish over the past year. Transportation Security Administration screening data shows that almost 11 million passengers traveled to June 2022, compared to June 2021.

NerdWallet analyzed data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics in order to identify the most reliable airlines in the U.S. in 2022.

An airline must be located in the United States to be eligible to participate in our analysis.

To avoid penalizing larger airlines for having more operations, we used rates and percentages. Delta Air Lines, for example, may have had more cancellations that Frontier, but Frontier’s cancellation rate was higher as a percentage.

Below is a list of winners and losers for each category.


The most important statistic to determine how well an airline performs is its on-time percentage. This is an important factor that impacts every passenger on the plane.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics measured the percentage of flights arriving at the destination gate within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time.

Two airlines were able to surpass the 80% mark based on BTS data between July 2021 and June 2022. Hawaiian Airlines won the top prize with 86%. With an 84% on time percentage, Delta Air Lines came in second behind Hawaiian Airlines.

JetBlue Airways, which had 65% of its flights arrive within 15 minutes of their scheduled arrival time, and Frontier Airlines with 69% on-time performance were the worst performers. This means that more than one of every three JetBlue flights was delayed for more than 15 minutes in this time period.

Flight cancellations

A delayed flight can be dangerous, but a cancelled flight could cause more problems to travel plans.

Cancellations of flights require that you rebook on a new flight. This could mean having to purchase last-minute lodging or food at an overpriced airport.

BTS data for July 2021 through June 2022 show Hawaiian had the lowest cancellation rate of any U.S. airline with only 0.81%. With a cancellation rate at 1.63%, Delta came in second. The highest number of flights were canceled by JetBlue (3.81%), and Spirit Airlines (4.1%).

Please note that flight cancellation data only includes flights cancelled less than seven days before departure. This means that airlines who cancel or reschedule flights less than one week before departure are not penalized.

Unhandled luggage

Are you a check-in or carry-on bag? You might not be concerned about how many airlines lose bags if you are a Team Carry-On. For those who travel with full-sized toiletries and don’t mind lugging their luggage around at the airport, how an airline handles luggage can be a significant factor.

According to BTS data, Hawaiian again topped the list with 0.28% mishandled checked bags. To put it another way, approximately 1 out of 357 checked bags on Hawaiian Airlines was lost, delayed, or mishandled. Frontier (0.3%) and Southwest Airlines (0.43%) round out the top three in mishandled bags.

Oneworld alliance partners American Airlines (8.4%) and Alaska Airlines (0.70%) were the worst performing airlines in mishandling luggage over the time period. American Airlines also mishandled 897,345 checked bags during the same period.

Flight diversions

A flight that is diverted to another airport than the destination airport is worse than a cancelled flight. This isn’t something you would expect. Around 0.24% of all flights diverted between July 2021 and June 2022 by the U.S.’s largest airlines were affected. This is approximately 1 in 416 scheduled flights.

BTS data from the same period show that Hawaiian diverted 62 flights, for a diversion rate 0.08%. This is 1 of every 1,165 scheduled flight. Frontier was second with a rate of 0.15%. JetBlue, however, was the worst performer with 1,091 diversion flights in this period. This is a diversion rate 0.43% or 1 out of every 232 scheduled flight.

Other performance metrics

We also examined the number of delays on the tarmac and involuntary denied boarders.

When a flight experiences a “tarmac delay”, it is mandatory that airlines report the situation. This includes delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and four hours on international flights. Hawaiian was the only major U.S. airlines to not have a single tarmac delays between July 2021 and June 2022. Delta, on the other hand, had 92 delays at tarmac — one of which was nearly seven hours.

Involuntary denied board occurs when an airline sells too many flights and doesn’t have enough people to book a second flight. For the time period under review, Hawaiian didn’t have any involuntary denied board. Frontier denied boarding for 5,657 flyers while American did the exact same thing to 7,912 passengers.

The most reliable airline in 2022

Hawaiian Airlines was the most reliable in all metric that we tested, from on-time percentage to voluntary denied boardings. Hawaiian Airlines is now the most reliable airline in 2022, by a wide margin.

Delta is second overall, with a No. 2. in half the performance metrics. Due to its strong on-time performance and low cancellation rates, Alaska is third.

JetBlue’s performance was the worst among U.S. airlines, finishing in the bottom three for almost all metrics. Based on our weightings, Spirit finishes in second-to-last place, with American and Frontier tying for the third-worst-performing airline.


This analysis was based on several types of data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. These data captured performance of U.S. airlines between July 2021 and July 2022.

This is our complete dataset to determine the most reliable airlines for 2022.



Tarmac delays per 10,000 flights

Boardings Rate for 10,000 Flights

Alaska Airlines

American Airlines

Delta Air Lines

Frontier Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

JetBlue Airways

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines

Spirit Airlines

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