The Best Domestic Airlines to Fly (and Where They Operate) 

Editor’s note: The following article is not intended to be a ranking, but is only to serve as a list of possible options. As the saying goes, your mileage may vary.

If you are looking to hop on a flight within the United States, compare the available airlines with your list of must haves before booking. Are you looking to save money, get a comfortable seat, avoid delays, or fly first class? Check out FLYING’s list of the best domestic airlines below before you head to the airport!


Quicklook: Best Domestic Airlines

  1. Best Overall: Delta Air Lines
  2. Best Cheapest Airline: Spirit Airlines
  3. Best First Class Airline: American Airlines
  4. Best Airline for Long Flights: United Airlines 

Delta Air Lines 

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is one of the major airlines of the United States and a legacy carrier. Delta is a leader in domestic and internal travel. CNBC ranked Delta the best airline in North America for 2021, according to customer surveys based on flight entertainment, seat comfort, booking, check- in, and service.
Best For: Overall

Headquarters: Atlanta, GA

Year Established: 1925

Website: https://www.delta.com/

Employees: 83,000

Revenue: $47.0 billion

Why People Like This Airline

  • Very friendly flight attendants 
  • Newer fleet
  • Good refreshments
  • On time flights 

Why People Don’t Like This Airline: 

  • Tight legroom 
  • Cold cabins

Spirit Airlines 

Spirit Airlines is a major American ultra-low-cost airline. Offering flights throughout the United States to and from most major airports, Spirit Airlines provides many travel options for travelers domestically without breaking the bank. To keep the ticket cost low, Spirit’s tickets do not include carry-ons.
Best For: Cheapest Airline

Headquarters: Miramar, FL

Year Established: 1983

Website: https://www.spirit.com/ 

Employees: 9,000

Revenue: 3.8 billion

Why People Like This Airline

  • Low cost  
  • Friendly customer service
  • Best for short trips 

Why People Don’t Like This Airline:

  • Low quality seats 
  • Carry-ons cost extra

American Airlines

American Airlines

For U.S.-based airlines, American Airlines stands alone as the last major U.S. airline to offer a true international first class product, as Delta and United have dropped first class from international destinations. Note that other features of its domestic first-class service have been scaled back, so your experience on U.S. short-haul routes will vary widely.

Best For: First Class Airline

Headquarters: Fort Worth, TX

Year Established: 1926

Website: https://www.aa.com/ 

Employees: 123,000

Revenue: $40.7 billion

Why People Like This Airline

  • Guaranteed aisle seat 
  • Score more frequent flier points by flying first 
  • Flagship First, upscale version of AA’s traditional first class 
  • Fully reclinable seat 
  • Lower-priced first class seats than competitors

Why People Don’t Like This Airline: 

  • Frequency of delays
  • Crowded 

United Airlines

United Airlines is one the largest and most flown airlines around the world. It is not surprising that it flies from coast to coast on a daily basis. With comfortable cabins and a friendly staff, United may be the best airline to fly long routes domestically.
Best For: Long Flights

Headquarters: Chicago, IL

Year Established: 1926

Website: https://www.united.com/en/us 

Employees: 84,000

Revenue: 40.8 billion

Why People Like This Airline:

  • Carry-on included  
  • Extra comfort on the seats
  • Many entertainment options

Why People Don’t Like This Airline:

  • Frequent delays  
  • Bad customer service

What Is a Domestic Airline? 

A domestic flight is one that takes place entirely in one country; both the departure and arrival cities are in the same country, in this instance, the United States. 

What to Consider When Choosing an Airline

When you are choosing an airline for your next trip, make sure you check out reviews before you book. Consider the airline’s reliability, service locations, and ticket price when you are booking. 


Reliability in the airline industry can be hit and miss. This is mostly due to so many pieces working together to get you from point A to point B. Check reviews for the airline you plan to fly with to see if they are prone to delays or cancellations. Make sure you leave plenty of time in your travel plans to make it to your destination if delays occur. 

Service Areas

Of course, one of the most important factors to consider when booking a domestic flight is to ensure that the airline flies to your destination. Budget airlines may not serve the locations you are wanting to fly to.

Ticket Price

Based on you and your family’s budget, the airline you choose may be based on cost. Different destinations, dates, and airlines come at different costs. If you are looking to fly on a budget carrier try Spirit but if you are looking to splurge, try American’s first class cabin. 

Coast to Coast Flying

Hop on a flight to your next vacation, whether on the beach or in the mountains, choose one of these best domestic airlines to get you where you want to go. If you are looking for the best international airlines, check out our top airlines from the U.S to Mexico. Stay informed about all things aviation for pilots, and subscribe to FLYING Magazine.

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