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Southwest ranked No. 1 airline by Consumer Reports

May 13, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Airline prices are up, and on top of that, travelers are paying billions of dollars in fees for everything from meals to checked bags. Before you plan your next trip, you'll want to know which airlines travelers like, and which they don't.

According to the latest Consumer Reports airline survey, airplane travel isn't always so friendly for today's passengers. Uncomfortable seats, poor service and endless fees were some of the many complaints.

Consumer Reports asked almost 15,000 people to rate their overall satisfaction with the airlines and things like seat comfort and service, and US Airways was at the bottom of the ratings.

"US Airways got very low ratings for cabin-crew service, baggage handling, seat comfort and entertainment options," said Greg Daugherty of Consumer Reports.

United didn't do much better for overall satisfaction. With most airlines, one of the biggest complaints was high fees.

But on Southwest, the top-rated airline, 93 percent of travelers said they didn't have to pay fees for services like checking a bag, choosing a seat or for food and drinks.

"Southwest is one of the few airlines that lets you check two bags for free. And it was the only airline that had the highest scores for cabin-crew service and check-in," Daugherty said.

JetBlue came in at No. 2 in the survey. It was the only airline to receive a high rating for its in-flight entertainment, and its seats generally have more leg room. Both can make your next trip more enjoyable.

Consumer Reports says there's some good news on the horizon. Airlines are going to be required to include all fees and taxes in advertised fares, and they're also going to be required to spell out their fees on their websites. The new rules are due to go into effect later this year.

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