A Guide to US Airlines

A Guide to US Airlines

When searching for the best flight deals around, we pride ourselves in taking into account every aspect of a deal and only recommending flights we would take ourselves. Some of the things we look for in deals is short connections (or none at all), the perks provided by the airline in your fare, and even the type of plane flying that route. A good airline can easily be worth paying a little more for a much more positive in-flight experience, without breaking the bank.

Since airlines don't play by the same rules our team of flight experts have put together this guide to some of the best airlines to fly with in the US.

Alaska Airlines

Frequently named “Best U.S. Airline” by frequent-flyers themselves (including Condé Nast Traveller and Forbes), Alaska Airlines provides great service and has a very loyal customer base.

Alaska Airlines has one of the most clear-cut baggage policies we’ve seen:

Up to three standard bags are included on most tickets and additional bags are below the average cost for other airlines (around $30)

Bag policy & fees: 

  • 1 personal item & 1 standard carry-on bag included
  • 1 checked bag included on certain ticket types, additional items from $30-$100

Meals:

  • Light meals included on flights over three hours; light snacks available for purchase on most flights over two hours. Regional and shuttle flights offer picnic packs

Seat selection:

  • Free with Premium tickets. Economy prices range from $15-$50 per seat for advance booking

Noteworthy prices:

  • New York - Toronto $96, San Francisco - Costa Rica $76, and San Diego - Cancun $87, all round trip. Their fall sale is also one to watch out for with buy one get one free deals.


Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is one of the oldest U.S. carriers and certainly one of the most respected.

For domestic flights, they offer some of the best in-flight entertainment options, with a large selection that includes the latest movie releases. They are one of the last American airlines to offer free in-flight entertainment on all flights. Based in Atlanta, their main hub, they cover over 80 different routes and fly almost 4,000 flights per day.

Bag policy & fees

  • 1 personal item and 1 standard carry-on bag for free
  • 1 checked bag included with certain ticket types, additional items from $30-$100

Meals:

  • For all flights over 250 miles, passengers will receive complimentary snacks and soft drinks. For flights where complimentary meals and beverages are not offered, snacks can be purchased. Offer some of the best airline meals for those on special diets.

Seat selection:

  • Included in the price for premium tickets. Prices range from $15-$50 per seat for advance booking on economy fares

Noteworthy prices:

  • Philadelphia - Beijing $190, Washington - Hong Kong $206, New York - Seoul $248 & Tokyo $232, all round trip

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines is an ultra-low-cost carrier with flights throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Expect a lot of hidden fees from this airline, smaller than average legroom, no in-flight entertainment, and very basic customer service. 

That said, they are a good budget airline if you are looking for short domestic flights and aren’t worried about any added frills. Make sure to check the size of your carry-on bags to avoid unexpected fees. See our full guide on Spirit Airlines here.

Bag policy & fees

  • 1 small personal item included
  • Limited to 1 checked bag per person on most routes. $21-$26 for Spirit Fare Club members and $30-$35 for non-members each way

Meals:

  • Onboard snacks available for purchase for $3-$12

Seat selection:

  • Prices range from $15-$50 per seat for advance booking

Noteworthy prices:

  • New York - South America from $47, Caribbean $95, Florida and Miami $58, all round trip





Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian is the largest airline serving the state of Hawaii and also offers great international routes such as to Australia and Japan. They pride themselves in providing top-tier service and a friendly customer service team.

Bag policy & fees:

  • 1 small personal item included with ticket
  • Checked bags vary in price depending on where you are going, if you are an island native, and what ticket type you buy. For additional items, prices start from $30 - $200

Meals:

  • Island-inspired meals and snacks are free on their North America, South Pacific, and Asia routes. You'll also be able to choose from a wide array of complimentary drinks during your flight.

Seat selection:

  • Included in the price for premium tickets. Prices range from $30-$100 per seat for advance booking on economy tickets.

Noteworthy prices:

  • Routes to all Hawaiian Islands from the US plus international routes to Australia and Asia with great prices, such as $200 to Sydney round trip.

United Airlines 

There’s no doubt that you've heard of United Airlines, some love them and others end up in the news, but what they do offer is a variety of pricing options to suit different travellers.

A growing number of budget airlines, like Spirit in the US, led to United creating the Basic fare, which is exactly that. You get a seat and not much else without paying extra. You will get more legroom most of the time, compared to the budget carriers.

They also provide a selection of premium fares that offer some, if not all, baggage included, as well as meal packages and flexible change fees.

Bag policy & fees: 

  • 1 personal item with a basic ticket, 1 personal item and 1 standard carry-on bag for free with most other fare types
  • 1 checked bag included with certain ticket types, additional items from $30-$100

Meals:

  • Snacks and light meals available to purchase on all flights over 1.5 hours (domestic) and 3 hours (international)

Seat selection:

  • Available for free on all tickets. Prices for ‘preferred seats’ (ones with extra legroom) range from $15-$50 per seat for advance booking

Noteworthy prices:

  • Fly to over 350 destinations worldwide, with prices such as $34Toronto - Philadelphia or $300 New York - London, all round trip


JetBlue Airways

JetBlue is ranked as the number one budget airline in the US thanks to their goal of providing great customer service, in-flight snacks, entertainment (even in economy) even while offering budget fares. The included seat selection is a particuarly nice feature for them.

Bag policy & fees:

  • 2 carry-on bags, max 
  • Checked bags, maximum of 2, some qualify as free depending on JetBlue Card member status (or $35 for the first bag for non Cardmembers)

Meals:

  • In-flight snacks included & additional items available for purchase

Seat selection:

  • Included in price

Noteworthy prices:

  • Routes to almost every US state and the Caribbean. Prices range from as little as $48 round trip to destinations such as Cancun and Cabo

Southwest Airlines

Southwest pioneered the higher quality budget offering markets since they launched in Texas, mainly serving domestic routes but also a limited number of international destinations due to their 2012 acquisition of AirTran.

The great bit about them is that they include two checked bags as standard and just as exciting, no change fees. You just pay for any fare changes on rebooking.

Bag policy & fees:

  • 2 checked bags included
  • 1 carry-on and 1 personal item 

Meals:

  • Snacks and soft drinks are complimentary
  • Passengers in Business Select get one free premium drink

 Seat selection: 

  • Southwest Airlines has a unique open-seating policy where seats are not assigned. When you check-in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group. Your boarding group and position determine the order in which you will be allowed to board the flight

Noteworthy prices:

  • Prices such as New York - Cancun $87, Philadelphia - Central America and the Caribbean from $97, round trip

American Airlines

American Airlines is the world’s largest airline and, like United in recent years, have added many different fare levels to suit different budgets. The good news is for now they still include a full-size cabin bag on domestic flights.

They advertise a flexible change policy on certain upgraded tickets but be aware of hidden extra charges if you do need to change.

Bag policy & fees: 

  • 1 standard carry-on bag for free with most other fare types
  • 1 checked bag included with premium ticket types, additional items from $30-$100

Meals:

  • Free snacks and soft drinks on all short-haul flights. Snacks and light meals available to purchase on all flights over 250 miles.

Seat selection:

  • Included in the price for premium tickets. Prices range from $30-$100 per seat for advance booking on economy tickets

Noteworthy routes/destinations:

  • Flies to over 350 destinations worldwide

Frontier Airlines

Frontier is a no-frills budget airline like Spirit, expect nothing except somewhere to sit. They offer three different fare tiers: Basic, The Works, and The Perks, which are basically bundles for stuff like onboard luggage and food. The Works does give some refund options in case your plans change. Be warned, though, there are some fees attached.

Bag policy & fees

  • 1 personal item with Basic fare ticket, 1 personal item and 1 standard carry-on bag for free with most other fare types
  • 1 Checked bag included with certain ticket types, additional items from $30-$85

Meals:

  • Snacks and drinks available for purchase

Seat selection:

  • Available for free with upgraded tickets. Prices range from $15-$50 per seat for advance booking on a Basic ticket

Noteworthy prices:

  • Philadelphia - Orlando $66, Los Angeles - Las Vegas $37, Boston - Nashville $45, all round trips

Sun Country Airlines

Similar to Spirit Airlines, Sun Country is an "ultra-low cost" airline, with the one standout feature being that they do provide in-flight entertainment and soft drinks. They also have an extensive list of destinations across North America and the Caribbean.

Bag policy & fees:

  • 1 small under-seat bag included
  • Additional cabin bags range from $38-$45 depending on size
  • Checked bag prices $30-$45 

Meals:

  • Sun Country offers a variety of complimentary beverages, as well as snacks and Flite bites (snack boxes) available for purchase

Seat selection:

  • Prices range from $2-$35 per seat for advance booking

Noteworthy prices:

  • Chicago - Savannah $54, Minneapolis - Nashville $63, Caribbean from $96, all round trips.

Allegiant Air

Las Vegas-based Allegiant offers some of the lowest domestic fares, Caribbean or Mexico here but Hawaii is a go. They also have higher than normal hidden fees, for things like printed boarding passes, checking-in, seat selection, and checked bags. 

They can offer great discounts for hotels and rental cars when bundled together with your flight.

Bag policy & fees:

  • 1 small under-seat bag included
  • Additional cabin bags range from $10-$20, depending on size
  • Checked bag prices are $10-$75 

Meals:

  • A variety of low-cost snacks and drinks on board many flights for purchase 

Seat selection:

  • Prices range from $15-$80 for advance booking

Noteworthy prices:

  • New York - Orlando $102, Washington - Las Vegas $78, Chicago - Phoenix $94, all round trip. 

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