What's the best airline to fly if you want low-level elite status?

If you're looking for low-level elite status, what's the best airline to fly in 2015. Is it American Airlines? Photo: American Airlines. 

If you're looking for low-level elite status, what's the best airline to fly in 2015. Is it American Airlines? Photo: American Airlines. 

If you only fly 25,000 miles per year -- the lowest elite-level tier on most U.S. airlines -- what's the best airline to fly? Which carrier gives the best perks?

This is a question I'll be tackling soon as my first assignment for the Los Angeles Times travel section. I know some of you don't think elite status is all that enticing. But for many others, who have never had it, it remains a goal. When you have it, you usually get free bags, priority boarding, and often, at least a chance at a free premium economy seat. 

More people could qualify for elite status if they just stuck to one airline, or one airline alliance, for an entire year. But, of course, most travelers don't do this. They like to shop around. 

My goal in the story is to persuade more people that they could achieve elite status with a little more planning. Yes, 25,000 miles is out of reach for a lot of travelers. But many others can easily get there. They just don't know it. 

I'm planning to rank the major carriers based on the perks they offer to their lowest-level elite members. Special points will be given to airlines with strong operations in Los Angeles, since that's where the newspaper is based. 

So which airline should be No. 1? And which should be last?

I welcome your thoughts in the comments section.