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Before you book your next flight, here’s a word of warning: You may not want to fly on Spirit Airlines. The carrier received the lowest overall scores of any company that Consumer Reports has ever rated.

Today, Consumer Reports released its results from a readers’ survey that ranks the best and worst airlines.

So why didn’t Spirit Airlines make the cut? Industry analysts say that although the no-frills airline charges less than other carriers, customers still take a hit in their pockets by paying other additional fees, including $10 to $19 to book a flight, $3 for a soda or M&Ms, and $35 to $100 per carry-on bag. Readers also claimed that the airline has some of the “tightest” seating space in the industry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Virgin America topped the list for the first time, receiving some of the highest customer satisfaction scores that any airline has received in years.  According to the survey, flyers said they like the comfy, leather seat cushions in the airline’s economy class. Readers also gave the airline’s in-flight entertainment high marks.

Other carriers that fared well included Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines for check-in and cabin staff. American, United and US Airways received the lowest ratings possible for cabin cleanliness, seating comfort and onboard entertainment.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 16,000 readers — who flew a combined 31,732 domestic flights — in February. Readers were asked to rate their satisfaction with the airlines’ check-in ease, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, seating comfort, baggage handling and in-flight entertainment.

Here’s a quick look at the airlines and their overall score, based on a 0 to 100 scale:

1.   Virgin America, 89
2.   Southwest Airlines, 85
3.   JetBlue Airways, 85
4.   Hawaiian Airlines, 82
5.   Alaska Airlines, 81
6.   Frontier Airlines, 78
7.   Delta Air Lines, 71
8.   US Airways, 66
9.   American Airlines, 66
10. United Airlines, 63
11. Spirit Airlines, 50

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In an $11 billion deal that would create the world’s largest airline, American Airlines and US Airways have agreed to merge. The new airline will take the American Airlines name to help keep the company afloat after it filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago. The mega-merger deal is scheduled to close in the third quarter of 2013 and make its debut at an airport near you — well, sometime soon.

So what does this pending merger mean for travelers? For one, less competition in the airline industry could mean price hikes for customers. The new American Airlines — with 900 planes, 95,000 employees and 3,200 daily flights — will have the scale, breadth and capabilities to compete more effectively, according to US Airways CEO Doug Parker. The new American, along with United, Delta and Southwest, would control over 70% of the US market. So frequent fliers are warned to expect a rise in ticket prices.

Travelers flying American or US Airways won’t notice immediate changes. Industry officials say that it’s likely the airlines will operate separately for the first year and that existing tickets will be honored. However, it’ll be months before the frequent-flyer programs are combined and years before the 2 airlines are fully integrated.

For corporate business travelers, there may be a few perks. US Airways and American officials expect the combined network of flights and routes to lure corporate travelers away from competitors.

The new airline will keep all hubs for both airlines, but no word yet on a location for the operations center, reservations, flight training, and maintenance and crew bases.

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