Tracking seven operational and customer metrics, the Wall Street Journal ranked Delta No. 1 among U.S. airlines in its 2021 scorecard released Friday.

After a solid year of recovery and operational performance led by its employees, Delta Air Lines was named the Top U.S. Airline of 2021 by the Wall Street Journal in its annual airline scorecard rankings released Friday. The Journal tracks seven important operations and customer metrics among nine U.S. airlines; after coming in second in 2020, Delta’s network performed No. 1 last year. Delta was also the top airline in the 2019 Middle Seat rankings by WSJ.

"As we climbed together to rebuild the airline in 2021, we stayed true to our brand promises of safety, reliability and cleanliness," said John Laughter, E.V.P. and Chief of Operations. "This achievement recognizes the incredible effort by our people to safely deliver reliable, on-time service while showing our customers the Delta Difference."

WSJ ranked airlines by objective metrics from industry performance and U.S. Dept. of Transportation data. Delta ranked No. 1 overall and in five of the seven categories, including on-time arrivals, completion factor, preventing extreme delays and involuntary bumping, and lowest U.S. Department of Transportation complaints.

The full story and scorecard can be viewed on the Wall Street Journal website.

The Journal reported Delta’s network completion factor was ranked first among the nine airlines evaluated, canceling just .6% of all scheduled flights. Delta Connection (No. 1 among regional competitors) contributed strongly to the airline’s performance throughout the year, setting a record with 218 days without a cancellation.

Delta mainline led its closest competitor in 2021 by nearly a full percentage point on completion factor, five points in on-time arrivals (AO), and nearly four points ahead in on-time departures (DO).

The Wall Street Journal recognition is the latest for Delta’s award-winning operation. Delta people also helped catapult the airline into other prestigious spots, including the Cirium Platinum Award for operational excellence, the No. 1 spot in the J.D. Power 2021 North America Airline Satisfaction Study and the No. 1 spot in the annual Business Travel News Airline Survey for the 11th year in a row. 

Deicing Delta aircraft
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Cirium’s new annual award is presented to an airline with outstanding performance considering the complexity of the airline’s operation, volume of flights, diversity of its network and other key operational factors.

Besides aiming to lead the industry in reliability and on-time performance, key customer-focused initiatives in 2021 propelled Delta’s brand loyalty and high customer satisfaction. The middle seat block through May, the Delta CareStandard and innovation made Delta the airline of choice during what became a rapid year of recovery and rebuilding.

“Delta’s dedication to operational reliability is the foundation of the premium experience we work to deliver every day as we build meaningful connections with our customers throughout their journey,” said Allison Ausband, E.V.P. and Chief Customer Experience Officer. "This recognition is testament to the resilience of all 75,000 Delta employees who continually work to ensure a safe and reliable journey for all."

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