Airline Passenger Complaints Surge


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An airline performance report, released this morning, indicates what too many consumers already know: that air travel isn't getting any easier with shrinking seats, overbooked flights and lousy on-time records.

The national Airline Quality Rating is dubbed "the premier statistical study of major airline performance in the United States," and is conducted by researchers at Purdue University and Wichita State University. They found that complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation surged by one-fifth in 2012.

"The way airlines have taken 130-seat airplanes and expanded them to 150 seats to squeeze out more revenue I think is finally catching up with them," said co-author Dr. Dean Headley of Wichita State. "People are saying, `Look, I don't fit here. Do something about this.' At some point airlines can't keep shrinking seats to put more people into the same tube."

United Airlines had the highest consumer complaint rate, Southwest had the lowest.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance record of 93 percent. ExpressJet and American Airlines had the worst records with only 77 percent of their planes arriving on time in 2012.

The industry's mishandled bag rate was 3 per 1,000 passengers in 2012.

The airlines covered in the report are Air Tran, Alaska, American, American Eagle, Delta, ExpressJet, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, SkyWest, Southwest, United, US Airways and Virgin America.


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