Skip to Content

8 Best Regional Airlines Ranked [2022]

8 Best Regional Airlines Ranked [2022]

The past two years have been a rocky period for all the airlines due to pandemic-induced travel fears. With some semblance of normalcy returning to the market, we figure a lot more people are considering travel. With that, we’ve put together a list of the best regional airlines spanning North America. 

Consider this: around 2.9 million airline passengers fly in and out of the various airports and the FAA handles around 45000 flights daily. Without a doubt, this is one of the largest markets for the industry.

In this article, we will take a look at the top 8 airlines. While rating them, we have focused on some of the most important factors including safety, comfort, price, and amenities.

So, let’s get down to it.

1. JetBlue Airways 

jetblue airways

Flights per day: 900

Total Destinations: 104

Safety Rating: 8

Comfort Rating: 9

Price: 8

Amenities: 9

Overall Rating: 9/10

JetBlue Airways is the seventh-largest airline in North America in terms of the number of passengers carried. It was founded in 1999 and was originally called NewAir. It has its headquarters in Long Island City and its primary operating hub in Terminal 5 of the JFK airport.

JetBlue was one of the first airlines in the US to follow the business model of a low-cost carrier. At the same time, it offered more in-flight amenities than the other low-cost carriers. These include onboard entertainment in every seat, as well as complimentary snacks, gate-to-gate free Wi-Fi, and soft drinks.

Besides, JetBlue also offers more legroom than other operators. The company’s mission is not to compromise passenger comfort at any stage. 

These are some reasons behind JetBlue’s steady growth in its business shares in the past decades. In fact, it was the only airline that registered a profit in the period after 9/11. It’s also a top-ranking airline in terms of customer satisfaction. 

That said, JetBlue increased its baggage charges recently. That is one aspect that most customers didn’t appreciate.

Presently, the airlines serve around 104 destinations in North, Central, and South America. It also serves in the Caribbean islands. JetBlue operates Airbus and Embraer planes and is one of the few North American airlines that doesn’t operate a Boeing fleet. Recently, it has also stepped into the transatlantic market by launching flights to and from London.

In terms of customer service, in-cabin comfort, and value JetBlue has emerged as one of the best choices for travelers. In fact, it has also won the top spot in the 2021 World’s Best Awards by Travel + Leisure.

2. Southwest Airlines

southwest airlines

Flights per day: Around 4000

Total Destinations: 121

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 8

Price: 9

Amenities: 8

Overall Rating: 9/10

Founded in 1967 as Air Southwest, Southwest Airlines is the largest low-cost carrier in the world at present. The airline has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas

In the first 9 years of its operation, the airline had only three destinations. These were Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. It expanded its operations across the country only after 1979. At present, it flies to 121 destinations across the US and 10 other countries.

Being a forward-thinking business, Southwest was one of the first airlines that offered a website as well as an online booking system to the customers. In 2008 it developed a pressure-washing system that improved fuel efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. 

Southwest Airlines also has some special features that make it unique.

For example, you aren’t assigned seats in Southwest. Generally, passengers are divided into five groups for check-in and you can choose any available seat as per your liking. Besides, it also offers free alcoholic drinks to passengers on holidays. While its lounge services aren’t the best, they’re not too bad either.

Also, Southwest Airlines use a “point to point” network. For this reason, almost 80 percent of its passengers are locals. The company has a business model that focuses on being a  people-oriented airline 

The airline is one of the largest operators of Boeing 737s in the world. The total fleet size is 737. While they offer fewer frills or amenities, you can get extremely affordable prices if you book in advance. 

3. Alaska Airlines

alaska airlines

Flights per day: Around 1300

Total Destinations: 115

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 9

Price: 8

Amenities: 8

Overall Rating: 9/10

Headquartered in SeaTac, Washington, Alaska Airlines is the fifth-largest U.S. airline in terms of the number of passengers. The legacy of the airline goes back to 1932 when it was founded as “McGee Airways,” 

Starting from obscurity, Alaska has carved a rich history and is one of the top airlines in the US at present. In 2016, Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America and presently it has more hubs on the West Coast than any other airline. It has also established a strong foothold in the East Coast and Midwest.

What sets it apart from the competitors is the on-time performance record and a high rate of customer satisfaction. Apart from the low prices, it also offers a reward program that’s popular among the customers.

The airline is also considered one of the best when it comes to boarding, deplaning, and baggage handling. The courtesy and efficiency of the crew and the lounge service are also excellent.

The business model is people-oriented and the employees are empowered to provide the best experience for passengers. In reality, employees can take on-the-spot decisions without informing their supervisors. However, baggage charges are on the higher side.

Alaska Airlines has taken multiple active steps to reduce environmental impact. It is one of the top rankers in fuel efficiency. The airline has also cut down the use of plastic water bottles and plastic cups to reduce inflight waste generation. It presently uses plant-based cartons for its customers.

4. Delta Airlines 

delta airlines

Flights per day: 3600 to 3700

Total Destinations: 325

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 9

Price: 7

Amenities: 9

Overall Rating: 9/10

Delta is one of the largest airlines in the US with flights to 325 destinations across 52 countries. Considering the fleet size and number of passengers carried, it’s the second-largest airline in the world.

Interestingly, the business originated in 1925 as Huff Daland Dusters, a humble crop-dusting company. It began passenger operations in 1929. Its rich history is showcased in the Delta Museum in the Atlanta headquarters, the main hub. In addition, Delta also has eight other hubs and a fleet of around 750 aircraft.

Delta Airlines has also been a pioneer in terms of technology use. It introduced video in-flight entertainment in 1980 and maps in the cabin to display the flight route in 1992. Another milestone was reached in 1997 when it became the first airline to move 100 million passengers in a year. In 2007, it started an onboard recycling program.

Coming to the amenities, Delta has one of the best in-flight entertainment packages for customers. This includes the latest movies, TV shows, music, and games. It also provides a complimentary sleep kit for international flights. The airline introduced a new premium economy class in 2017. The airport lounges termed the Delta Sky Club also offer a premium experience.

Without a doubt, Delta is one of the best airlines for on-time flights. It has also received multiple awards for that. In addition, the airline ensures top-notch customer service at all levels. The brand has also been featured on the list of Fortune’s Top 50 Most Admired Companies.

While Delta is not an affordable carrier, in terms of service and reliability, it remains one of the best.

5. American Airlines 

american airlines

Flights per day: around 6700

Total Destinations: 350

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 9

Price: 7

Amenities: 9

Overall Rating: 9/10

There are multiple reasons that make American Airlines the largest in the world. Firstly, it operates the largest fleet of 892 aircraft. It also operates in 350 locations in 58 countries. In addition, it carries the largest number of passengers in North America. It carried 95.3 million passengers in 2020.

American Airlines began its operations in 1930 through a union consisting of 80 different airlines. Presently, it’s headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and employs around 133,700 people.

In 1964, American Airlines employed the first African American Pilot, Dave Harris, on a major passenger airline. In 1973, Bonnie Tiburzi became the first female pilot in a commercial American airline with the company.

In 2013, the merger of American Airlines and US Airways was the biggest in the history of the aviation industry. The deal was valued at $11 billion.

Admittedly, the first-class service offered by the airline is one of the best in the US. In terms of amenities, you get spacious seats, free entertainment, and high-speed, satellite-based Wi-Fi. 

The airline also introduced premium economy seats in 2016. You also get access to excellent domestic and international lounges. That said, there were some negative reports regarding baggage handling.

Also, the AAdvantage mileage program.is one of the largest in the world. On average it generates $2.9 billion per year for the airline.

Moreover, it also has an alliance with other top airlines like Cathay Pacific, Qatar, and Japan Airlines. That means you can use miles earned from American Airlines to earn awards from these partners as well.

6. WestJet

westjet airlines

Flights per day: around 450

Total Destinations: Approx. 100

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 7

Price: 9

Amenities: 7

Overall Rating: 8/10

WestJet Airlines Ltd is a Canadian airline that commenced its operations in 1996. It was introduced as a low-cost carrier that will compete with Air Canada. It has its headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, which is also the primary hub.

The airline started operations in the US in 2004. In 2014, they expanded to Europe and started flights to Ireland and England. Presently, WestJet is the 9th largest airline in North America in terms of the number of passengers carried. It carried 19.58 million passengers in 2019.

The low-cost strategy of WestJet ensures a consistent range of low fares for the customers. In fact, the transatlantic service to Dublin was launched at an unbelievably low price of C$99. However, in recent years the company has focused on following a hybrid business model.

Previously, WestJet’s Boeing 737 and 767 fleet of WestJet didn’t feature a business class. In 2018, WestJet took a big leap by ordering a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a. It offered a plus, a premium economy section.

WestJet offers various options for choosing your fare. This includes the economy basic service, the EconoFlex fare, and the business and premium fares. Providing the best guest experience is also one of the main pillars of WestJet’s business strategy.

WestJet offers a free drink and a snack on board. You also get free Wi-Fi. The in-flight entertainment is provided through the WestJet app.

Overall, it’s one of the best options for budget travelers.

7. Porter Airlines

porter airlines

Flights per day: Currently unknown

Total Destinations: 29

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 8

Price: 9

Amenities: 7

Overall Rating: 8/10

Porter Airlines is owned by Porter Aviation Holdings and is headquartered in the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Toronto. It started its journey in 2006 and flies to 22 destinations.

The Billy Bishop airport is located on an island. That makes the runways on the shorter side. To ensure passenger comfort while using the short runways, the airline uses a fleet of Bombardier’s Dash 8 Q400. This also optimizes its operating and maintenance costs.

Porter Airlines was rated as a 4 Star Airline by Skytrax and it’s the only Canadian airline to receive that rating. The rating was given after judging the overall performance and service across multiple areas. These include check-in services, food & beverages, IFE, cleanliness, etc.

To enhance passenger comfort Porter improved the seat pitch and seat type in the Q400 aircraft. The set pitch of 32 inches is higher than its competitors using the Q400. In addition, the seats were upgraded to leather seats. 

Note, the airline offers no first-class cabins. So, there’s no meal service. But Porter offers complimentary snacks and free bar service for the passengers. It also offers lounge services with snacks and beverages. However, it doesn’t offer Wi-Fi.

However, the operations of the airline were severely hindered by the pandemic. Its existing fleet was grounded for months and it’s restarting operations in phases.

Recently Porter has placed an order for 80 Embraer E195-E2 jets that it intends to operate from the Pearson International Airport in Toronto. This is a part of the growth plan that the company will initiate in the recovery phase.

8. Hawaiian Airlines 

hawaiian airlines

Flights per day: around 240

Total Destinations: 32

Safety Rating: 9

Comfort Rating: 8

Price: 7

Amenities: 8

Overall Rating: 8/10

Based in Honolulu, Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines is the tenth largest commercial airline in the US. It started its operations way back in 1929 as Inter-Island Airways. Apart from the United States mainland, it flies to multiple destinations across Asia, Australia, American Samoa, French Polynesia, Hawaii, and New Zealand.

The airline has the distinction of being the oldest in the US that never encountered a fatal accident or a hull loss. No wonder it’s considered one of the safest airlines in the world. Since 2004, Hawaiian Airlines has also been marked as the most punctual carrier by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Moreover, you also get a Hawaiian feel during the flights through Hawaiian music, an island color scheme, and island-themed crew uniforms. Many Hawaiian aircraft offer lie-flat seats in the first class. It also offers Extra Comfort seats that offer more comfort than the usual economy class.

Besides, the airline also serves free island-inspired hot meals even in economy class. You also get interactive in-flight entertainment systems The company is also taking multiple steps to lower carbon output and embrace green initiatives.

If you are looking for extra space and comfort at a relatively low price, choosing Hawaiian is a good option. However, their route network across the mainland isn’t the best.

How We Chose These Best Regional Airlines 

Honestly, choosing the best airlines isn’t an easy task. There are multiple factors and different seat classes to consider.

To make things simple, we checked out the reviews of each major airline in North America by actual travelers. In addition, we collected feedback from our own team based on their experiences. We also gathered ratings and evaluations from Government and private agencies if any.

Since airlines services were disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic, data between March 31, 2019, and April 1, 2020, was also considered.

Next, this feedback was classified into various segments. These included customer satisfaction, airport services, cabin and ground staff services, safety records, and amenities including food and beverages. Once this is done, we rated each airline based on their overall performance.

In short, it took us some time and effort. But in the end, we have the top 8 performers for you.

FAQs 

Question: What is the largest regional airline? 

Answer: SkyWest Airlines is the largest regional airline in North America. As per the data from 2018, it flew 37.42 million passengers across 257 destinations.

Question: What is the safest regional airline?

Answer: As per a recent rating, Delta Air Lines was marked as the safest among the full-service carriers. Among the low-cost carriers, Southwest Airlines occupied the top spot. 

Question: Do regional jets fly lower? 

Answer: This is true in most cases due to the technical parameters of the aircraft used by regional carriers. For example, turboprop aircraft don’t climb above 25000 feet.

Question: What is the richest airline? 

Answer: As per data American Airlines earned $ 44.9 billion in sales revenue in 2019 and is also the largest in terms of market share.

Question: What is the worst regional airline? 

Answer: A recent report by The Points Guy points out Allegiant Air as the worst regional airline. This was mainly due to a lack of punctuality and frequent cancellations.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the best regional airlines you can choose from for visiting your next travel destination.

Considering the excellent reliability and positive passenger experience we choose Southwest Airlines as our preferred choice in this category. It also scores high when it comes to affordability and has a high safety score in the post-pandemic era.