Common wisdom says that buying cheap is more expensive in the long run.
When it comes to air travel, consumers probably expect this to be true. After all, budget carriers aren't always considered smooth-running operations offering a consistent level of service. But according to an analysis of the nation's 10 major airlines, discount carriers actually rank first in reliability.
Southwest Airlines, the no-frills discount carrier, handily beat the competition in most of the categories we judged. JetBlue, also considered a discount airline despite its plush leather seats and individual television sets, ranked third just behind Continental Airlines. Fourth place went to AirTran, another budget carrier.