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Up In The Air

A new top ranked U.S. airline emerges in something of an upset, while United Airlines is shut out

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Virgin America
Virgin America has been named the best domestic airline by Travel+Leisure readers. Courtesy photo
Virgin America
Virgin America offers personal entertainment systems in all seats. Photo courtesy of Virgin America
Virgin America
T+L readers praised Virgin America for cabin comfort and in-flight service. Photo courtesy of Virgin America
Southwest Airlines airpline jet flying
Southwest Airlines dropped to No. 4 in the rankings after earning a No. 3 slot in 2013. Photo by Dylan Ashe/Wikipedia
Virgin America
Virgin America
Virgin America
Southwest Airlines airpline jet flying

Fresh off a hotly contested expansion to Dallas Love Field Airport, Virgin America has been named the top domestic airline for the seventh year in a row. The distinction comes courtesy of Travel + Leisure readers, who also dubbed Dallas-based Southwest Airlines the fourth-best carrier in the country.

To compile the rankings, T+L polled thousands of readers on seven categories: Cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value, food, timeliness and loyalty programs. Each airline was given a score on a 100-point scale. Virgin earned an 85, while Southwest skated by with a 76.

In a statement, Virgin America CEO and president David Cush called the T+L award "one of the highest honors in our industry."

"We are pleased that we continue to meet and exceed the expectations of some of the world’s most savvy travelers — year after year," he said.

The rest of the top five included JetBlue Airways (No. 2), Hawaiian Airlines (No. 3) and Alaska Airlines (No. 5). Southwest slipped one spot from its 2013 ranking, when it laid claim to being the third-best airline in America. Unsurprisingly, Houston-dominant United Airlines didn't make the top five (and the magazine didn't go any lower).

The complete Travel+Leisure World's Best Award results are featured in the upcoming issue of the magazine, which hits newsstands July 18.

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