Alaska Airlines is the top carrier in the United States according to a new report. The Airline Quality Report (AQR) ranked Alaska in first place when it comes to airline performance and passenger satisfaction. If you haven't flown with Alaska Airlines before, you may want to check out what this airline has to offer the next time you need to book tickets if you're looking for a satisfying experience.

Alaska Airlines' award-winning Mileage Plan is also something that's worth looking into if you'd like to start earning bonus miles and other perks while enjoying the top-ranked airline in the country. How was Alaska Airlines' ranking determined? Take a look at the methodology behind what many consider to be the most important report in the airline world.

What Determined The Rankings?

The 2017 AQR ranked the 12 biggest airlines in the United States based on the 2016 figures released by the United States Department of Transportation. Each airline's ranking is calculated based on on-time flights, lost baggage, complaint rates and the number of passengers bumped from flights. Alaska Airlines was followed by Delta, Virgin America, JetBlue and Hawaiian Airlines in the top five spots. Here's a look at the complete list:

• Alaska Airlines
• Delta
• Virgin America
• JetBLue
• Hawaiian Airlines
• Southwest Airlines
• SkyWest Airlines
• United Airlines
• American Airlines
• ExpressJet
• Spirit Airlines
• Frontier Airlines

One thing that is noteworthy about the rankings released by the Airline Quality Report is that many budget airlines are positioned near or above legacy carriers. This is practically unheard of just a few years ago.

Trends are showing that passengers are perfectly satisfied with receiving bare-bones service if the price and everything else are right. This really puts pressure on standard carriers to entice customers with bonus offers and rewards based on loyalty.

An Interesting Time For Alaska Airlines

What is also notable is that Alaska Airlines managed to jump five spots since 2015. The airline has been taking extra steps to keep customers pleased as it begins the early stages of acquiring Virgin America.

The corporate powers behind the airline have been hard at work beefing up its loyalty program and offering convenient flight choices. The hard work appears to be paying off now that Alaska Airlines has reached the top spot in the very competitive landscape of carriers.

A Look At The Airline Industry

The Airline Quality Report offers a unique glimpse into how airlines are performing today. The good news is that customer satisfaction is on the rise. Consumer complaints declined across the board in 2016. In addition, the problem of involuntary denied boarding passes improved by a observable margin. Even the rate of mishandled baggage improved noticeably from the previous year.

Of course, the most important measure of where the airline industry is today is the overall on-time arrival percentage. The positive news is that the on-time arrival percentage jumped from 79.9 percent to 81.4 percent between 2015 and 2016. These improvements have caused customer satisfaction rates to climb.

Scott Dylan is a contributing writer at GET.com. Email: scott.dylan@get.com.