Increase the odds you'll enjoy your next flight

As our recent survey of more than 16,000 Consumer Reports subscribers shows, the airline you choose will determine how friendly (or not) you'll find today's skies.

People who booked flights on our top-rated airline, Virgin America, gave the experience one of the highest overall scores we've seen in long time. The carrier inspired some impressive customer loyalty.

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For example, one woman told us she flew across California and booked a room in Los Angeles, just so she could take a Virgin America flight to Cancun the next day. She lauded the airliner's comfy seats, and the fact that the screen on the seatback in front of her allowed her to watch her favorite TV shows and play video games.

In-flight entertainment options also impressed another reader, who frequently makes cross-country business trips and particularly appreciated the fact that he could keep real-time taps on the stock market's activity en route. In contrast, subscribers who flew with our lowest-rated airline, Spirit, recounted many travel woes. Two people we spoke to complained about poor communication and a lack of help booking hotel rooms and alternate transportation when flights were canceled or rerouted due to bad weather. Other subscribers complained about the airline's ultra-cramped seats and getting hit with multiple fees.

The overall ratings were based on several criteria, including check-in ease, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, baggage handling, seating comfort, and in-flight entertainment. Subscribers can check out the full details on the eleven airlines we rated.

Of course, no matter which airline you choose, you'd like to get a good deal on your ticket, so check out our tips on landing the lowest fares.

Mandy Walker

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