ORLANDO, Fla. -

A report on airline quality says U.S. airlines scored their second best performance last year, with Virgin America the leader.

The annual report, released Monday by Wichita State University at Omaha and Purdue University, ranked the 14 largest U.S. airlines.  Researchers based their rankings on on-time arrivals, mishandled bags, consumer complaints and passengers who purchased tickets, but were turned away because flights were overbooked.

Airline performance in 2012 was the second highest in the 23 years that researchers at the universities have tracked the performance of airlines.

While airlines scored high on performance, passenger complaints surged.  Department of Transportation data indicates consumer complaints against U.S. carriers rose 20 percent last year.

Virgin America, headquartered in Burlingame, Calif., did the best job on baggage handling and had the second-lowest rate of passengers denied seats due to over-bookings.

United Airlines, whose consumer complaint rate nearly doubled last year, had the worst performance.

The top five scorers, overall, in the airline quality rating report are:

  1. Virgin America
  2. Jetblue
  3. Air Tran
  4. Delta
  5. Hawaiian

Hawaiian had the best on-time performance.  American and Express Jet tied for the worst.