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Virgin America, to be bought by Alaska Airlines, ranked as top U.S. airline

Virgin America, to be bought by Alaska Airlines, ranked as top U.S. airline
Virgin America jetliners wait at a terminal gate at San Francisco International Airport on April 4. (John G. Mabanglo / European Pressphoto Agency)

Virgin America, we love you. Really.

The airline was ranked as the best among 13 U.S. carriers in the United States in a report that looked at criteria such as on-time performance, customer complaints and mishandled bags.

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It's the fourth year in a row the San Francisco-based airline has snagged the top spot in the Airline Quality Report. The ranking came out the same day that Alaska Airlines -- which placed fifth in the same report -- announced plans to buy Virgin America in a $2.6-billion deal.

Here's how the rankings went:

2. JetBlue Airlines, moved up from No. 4 last year.

3. Delta Air Lines, remained the same as last year.

4. Hawaiian Airlines, dropped from No. 2.

5. Alaska Airlines, remained the same as last year.

6. Southwest Airlines, remained the same as last year.

7. SkyWest, a regional carrier that partners with larger airlines and was No. 10 last year.

8. United Airlines, up from No. 9 last year.

9. ExpressJet Airlines, a regional carrier that partners with larger airlines and was No. 11 last year.

10. American Airlines, dropped from No. 7.

11. Frontier Airlines, dropped from No. 8.

12. EnvoyAir, a regional carrier owned by American Airlines Group that remained the same as last year.

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13. Spirit Airlines, which joined the rating this year

Overall, the performance of U.S. airlines improved a bit in 2015, the report says. The industry got better at on-time performance and had fewer bumped passengers and mishandled bags.

The number of customer complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation were up, however. Alaska had the fewest, and Spirit had the most.

The report is a joint research project by Wichita State University in Wichita, Kan., and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's campus in Prescott, Ariz.

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