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Despite high prices, Delta ranks slightly above average among U.S. airlines

Checking bags on Delta isn't cheap, but the carrier's cookies are a biscuit-like party in the mouth.

Checking bags on Delta isn't cheap, but the carrier's cookies are a biscuit-like party in the mouth.

Forget, momentarily, the irritants of the $25 charge for your first checked bag, or the additional $35 for the second. Delta Airlines, the dominating presence at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport's Lindbergh Terminal, provides one of the slightly above average flying experiences among U.S. carriers, according to WalletHub's 2016 "Best & Worst Airlines" report.  

Minneapolis is the third largest hub for the Atlanta-based flyer, which ranked fifth best in the study of the 10 largest U.S. airlines and three regional carriers. 

The report involved five categories that concentrated "on non-price aspects of the flying experience," though "costs were considered to a small extent."

Delta snagged the top spot for reliability, which gauged cancellations, delays, luggage mistakes, and problematic boardings. It placed third in the friendly skies of animal stewardship, which counted incidents of lost, injured, or dead caged cargo.

The airline scored fifth in consumer-complaint rates, registering less than 1,000 angry communications per 100,000 passengers.  

But those grades didn't keep “We love to fly, and it shows” from faltering elsewhere.

Delta earned 12th place, one removed from worst, for cost, which factored baggage fees and in-flight cocktail prices with fare prices. When WalletHub combined cost and cabin comforts like leg room and entertainment options, the carrier took seventh in overall passenger experience. 

“The World’s Most Trusted Airline” lost fourth place to Hawaiian Airlines by a nose. JetBlue and Alaska finished second and third, respectively.

Virgin America took the title, scoring far above the rest of the pool.