Congratulations, Southwest, Singapore, Hertz — you’re the best companies of 2017

Southwest Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Hertz top our list of the best companies of 2017.

How do we know? Because we asked — and you answered. The results of our annual Elliott Reader’s Choice survey are now ready for your inspection.

Also in the winner’s circle: Royal Caribbean, Uber, Hilton, TripAdvisor, DirecTV, Disney, and more.

This year’s poll was a break from the past. We removed some of the more controversial (and less interesting) categories and added a few that mattered to you. It’s all explained in this post.

Our Reader’s Choice poll is meant to be a buyer’s guide for and by readers. Oddly, there’s some overlap with the 2017 watchlist. Don’t you love oligopolies? We went to great lengths to keep outside influences and ballot-box stuffers out of the process this year.

Congratulations to the winners.

Domestic airline

1. Southwest Airlines
2. Alaska Airlines
3. United Airlines
4. JetBlue Airways
5. Delta Air Lines

Southwest has historically outperformed the other airlines in our surveys. But, surprisingly, United received more votes than perennial favorite JetBlue. There’s a likely reason: JetBlue this year embraced ancillary fees and moved to a more traditional two-class configuration. Shareholders love it. Passengers? Not so much.

International airline

1. Singapore
2. Virgin Atlantic
3. British Airways
4. Lufthansa
5. Cathay Pacific

A big win for Singapore this year.

Car rental

1. Hertz
2. Enterprise
3. Avis
4. National
5. Alamo

The big car rental brands, led by a resurgent Hertz, dominated the 2017 list.

Cruise line

1. Royal Caribbean
2. Celebrity
3. Disney
4. Princess
5. Holland America

Royal Caribbean, also last year’s winner, took the top spot in a landslide. But the competition for second, third and fourth place was fierce. Disney lost out to Celebrity by just a few votes. Obviously, you can’t go wrong with any of these cruise lines.

Ground transportation

1. Uber
2. Greyhound
3. Lyft
4. Megabus
5. Turo

Uber dominated this category with a majority of the votes.


1. Hilton
2. Marriott
3. InterContinental (IHG)
4. Wyndham Hotel Group
5. Best Western

What a remarkable turnaround for Hilton, which for years was plagued by service problems. Marriott, which just acquired Starwood, had a respectable second-place finish and InterContinental’s brands landed in third place.

Online travel agency

1. TripAdvisor
2. Expedia
3. Kayak
5. Priceline

Who would have thought TripAdvisor would be your favorite online travel agency? Expedia’s second-place finish was something of a surprise, given the high number of complaints.

Subscription TV

1. DirecTV
2. Comcast
3. Verizon Fios
4. DISH Network
5. AT&T U-verse

Biggest surprise: Comcast, which is in the middle of reinventing its customer service approach. It seems to be working. AT&T (DirectTV and U-verse) also scored high.

Theme park

1. Epcot (Disney World)
2. Magic Kingdom (Disney World)
3. Disneyland
4. Universal Studios (Orlando)
5. SeaWorld (San Diego)

A clean sweep by Disney.

Travel insurance

1. Allianz Global Assistance
2. Travel Guard
4. Squaremouth
5. TripMate

A strong showing by Allianz. Insurance sites also performed well in this survey. Both Allianz and Squaremouth are sponsors of this site.)

Vacation rental

3. HomeAway
4. FlipKey

No question, Airbnb dominates in this category.

Wireless carrier

1. AT&T
2. Verizon Wireless
3. T-Mobile
4. Sprint
5. Consumer Cellular

AT&T edged out Verizon by only a few votes. Interestingly, AT&T also receives far more complaints from readers than the other wireless carriers, so it’s a love-hate relationship.

All in all, the results suggest our readers are savvy and focused on finding quality at a fair price. Companies that deliver that winning combination are rewarded with votes, as it should be.

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