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Alaska Airlines is the number one ranked airline for the second year in a row, just barely beating out Delta, according to a report from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's College of Aviation.

Expand chart
Data: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The details: The study examined four main criteria, including customer complaints, denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and on-time arrivals.

  • Alaska Airlines saw an improvement in one area: "involuntary denied boardings per 10,000 passengers." But it did worse in the other three criteria.
  • The airline with the biggest number of complaints: Spirit Airlines, with 5.59 complaints per 100,000 passengers. (The industry average was 1.35.)

The big picture: Dr. Dean Headley, one of the authors of the study, told Axios that the "airline industry got better this year," which proves that "when they want to, they can change things." But, there's still a ways to go.

Flashback: Around this time last year, United experienced a major PR crisis when video surfaced of a man being dragged from the plane. Headley said that incident caused the industry to cut the "involuntary denied boarding rate by half."

The publicity surrounding that incident was what caused the change, but Headley asks: "Does it really take a dramatic incident for them to do the right thing?"

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
7 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tesla's wild rise and European plan

Tesla's market capitalization blew past $500 billion for the first time Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's just a number, but kind of a wild one. Consider, via CNN: "Tesla is now worth more than the combined market value of most of the world's major automakers: Toyota, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and its merger partner PSA Group."

Dave Lawler, author of World
48 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
2 hours ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.