Recently, I stumbled across an interesting piece from Travel Pulse that ranked the country’s top airliners by their craft beer offerings. I’m constantly flying in my line of work, so I enjoyed learning about which airlines stocked the best beers on-board.
For the most part, the results weren’t surprising: Alaska Airlines (ALK) rated highly due to its roster of Alaskan and Hawaiian brews, while budget carrier Spirit Airlines‘ (SAVE) offerings were at the bottom of the barrel.
Interestingly enough, these results largely matched up with how each airliner is rated in PortfolioGrader. Thanks to record low fuel costs and favorable travel trends, I’ve added a handful of promising airliners to my Blue Chip Growth letter, including Alaska Airlines, JetBlue (JBLU) and Southwest Airlines (LUV). ALK and JBLU earn top marks while LUV pulls off a respectable B-rating. Coincidentally, these three airliners rank towards the top of the beer ratings list (as well as in general customer service rankings).
Meanwhile, the two lowest rating carriers in terms of beer offerings—Spirit Airlines and America Airlines Group (AAL)—are struggling in terms of fundamental and quantitative health. SAVE outright fails with a D-rating, while AAL barely squeaks by with a C-rating.
While the connection between the quality of on-board beverages and general customer satisfaction may seem tenuous, it makes sense to me. There’s no denying that craft beer has exploded in popularity recently; that’s why Constellation Brands (STZ) bought San Diego’s Ballast Point for a staggering $1 billion last month. This year has been good to craft brewers; Seattle’s Elysian Brewing Co., New Orleans’ Abita Brewing and Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery have all been scooped up by larger beverage companies in recent months.
This is a powerful trend, and it stands to reason that more flyers value having good selection of quality in-flight beverages. Alaska Air, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines have shown that they’ve taken note of their customers’ changing tastes, and they’re profiting handsomely as a result.