AirTran Lands First Place in Airline Quality Study CheapOair Staff April 4, 2011 general Low-cost carrier AirTran Airways ranked first in the annual Airline Quality Rating. The carrier beat our other budget airlines like Southwest and JetBlue, as well as big companies like United and American. The airlines were judged on a few categories such as baggage handling, on-time average, denied boarding and customer complaints. Last year's winner, Hawaiian Airlines, said aloha to the top spot and landed in second place for the 2011 results. JetBlue and Alaska followed in third and fourth place respectively. So who scored the lowest in the survey? That honor would go to regional airlines Comair, Atlantic Southeast and American Eagle. This marks the 21st year airlines have been listed in the Airline Quality Rating. The findings are based on Department of Transportation information and results are published by Dr. Dean Headley on Wichita State and Dr. Brent Bowen of Purdue. .