This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

5 Worst U.S. Airlines of All Time

Stocks in this article: AAL UAL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- A day of East Coast thunderstorms in July could lead to massive delays in Charlotte, possibly stranding hundreds of connecting passengers in the airport overnight -- or even longer -- as they await seats on nearly full aircraft. Some might then decide that the US Airways division of American (AAL) is the worst airline in the world.

But that is not what we looked for in compiling a list of the five worst U.S. airlines of all time. Rather, we looked for airlines with flawed models, failed execution and, in some cases, severe operational deficiencies.

Despite occasional bad days, American and US Airways and other existing major airlines are not candidates for such a list. Their models obviously work and their execution is generally good, even if they remain hypersensitive to weather events and often, given high passenger loads that were unimaginable a decade ago, unable to quickly accommodate passengers whose flights are disrupted.

Flying Between the U.S. and China Is Booming -- Too Bad It's Not Profitable

How Delta Plays Politics in Washington: Who Needs Eric Cantor?

United Pilots: We Flew to Chengdu on a Boeing 787 and Loved It

Why Alaska Air Shares Could Soar Anther 15% to 20% This Year

To assemble the list of the worst ever, we consulted with about a half dozen people who are airline-obsessed. They included airline columnist Joe Brancatelli, airline consultant Bob Mann, Dallas Morning News airlines reporter Terry Maxon and others, some who are employed by airlines -- and who asked not to be named.

The bias was in favor of airlines that I personally covered. In fact, while they were operating, I interviewed top executives at all five. The executives all assured me that their airlines would succeed, even though in four of the cases airline experts were actively arguing that the chances for success were nil.

The exception was ValuJet, a success for a time, but one based on a flawed model where maintenance was outsourced and unable to accommodate the extremely rapid growth.

Importantly, as Mann said, in every case of a failed airline, "The saddest thing is you had employees who tried very hard to resolve what you knew and they knew to be problems. They were articulate about it and they communicated it, but for a variety of reasons management wasn't up to the task of listening or up to the task of fixing it.

"Either the strategy was bad or the management was bad or things just didn't work out," Mann said.

One of the executives, Air South Chairman John Tague, went on to become president of United (UAL), where he became known as a leader with a love for the industry and a willingness to communicate face-to-face with employees at all levels.

Maybe working at Air South helped make him that way.

Here is our list, which begins with Air South.

1 of 6

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 17,804.80 +26.65 0.15%
S&P 500 2,070.65 +9.42 0.46%
NASDAQ 4,765.38 +16.9840 0.36%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs