The annual Airline Quality Rating Report from researchers at Purdue University and Wichita State University, released Monday, found customers in 2012 giving the airline industry its second-highest quality rating in the survey's 23-year history, after 2011.
On every indicator in the survey (mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boarding, customer complaints and on-time arrival), United's ratings worsened from 2011 to 2012, in the context of a prolonged and painful merger with Continental Airlines.
Virgin America, conversely, reported outstanding numbers across all categories, with industry-best mishandled baggage rating and second-best involuntary denied boarding performance. It was also above average for its on-time arrival and customer complaints ratings.
To merit inclusion in the survey, airlines must have at least 1 percent of total domestic scheduled-service revenue for the year.
The full list of airlines, ranked best to worst. (Full survey breakdowns follow.)
1. Virgin America
9. US Airways
11. American Eagle