US Airlines Are Getting Less Complaints, More Timely

By Jim Liao, Epoch Times
June 16, 2016 Updated: June 17, 2016

On June 13, the U.S. Department of Transportation released its Air Travel Consumer Report, which uses statistical measures to transmit information on the quality of services provided by airlines.

In the latest report, airlines received fewer complaints and improved on arrival times. In April 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation received  870 consumer complaints about U.S. airlines, a 20 percent decrease from the 1,083 reported in April 2015. Reporting carriers also posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.5 percent in April 2016, up from both the 81.8 percent on-time rate in April 2015 and the 81.5 percent mark in March 2016.

Breaking down the data, Southwest, ExpressJet, and SkyWest had the fewest complaints per 100,000 enplanements (total number of passengers who board an aircraft) rate of 0.36, 0.38, and 0.43, respectively. Spirit Airlines had by far the highest complaint rate at 6.81. The next highest was Frontier airlines at 2.76.

The vast majority of complaints reported were from flight problems (372), which contains the subcategories of delays, cancellations, and misconnections. Next was customer service (141), reservation/ticketing/boarding (139), and then baggage (136). 

The most timely airlines, leading by a considerable amount, were Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Alaska Airlines at 94.1, 90.3, and 89.4 percent, respectively. Of the three, Delta Airlines provided data from 146 airports, compared to just 17 and 64 to the smaller Hawaiian and Alaska airlines. 

A flight is counted as on time by the government if it arrives within 15 minutes of schedule.

The most improved airlines in percentage of timely flights from April 2015–2016 were Frontier Airlines–which moved from rank 12 to rank 4, and then United airlines, which moved from rank 11 to 7.

Other Categories

U.S. airlines showed a marked improvement in other categories as well, such as cancelled flights, mishandled baggage rate, and oversales.

The reporting carriers canceled 0.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in April 2016, equal to the 0.9 percent cancellation rate posted in April 2015 and an improvement over the 1.0 percent rate in March 2016.

The Airlines with the most cancellations were Spirit, Express Jet, United, and Skywest, being the only airlines above a 1 percent cancellation rate at 1.7, 1.5, 1.5, and 1.4 percent.

The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.31 reports per 1,000 passengers in April, an improvement over both April 2015’s rate of 2.77 and March 2016’s rate of 2.49. ExpressJet airlines (3.57 percent), Hawaiian airlines (3.04 percent), and American airlines (2.89 percent) had the highest mishandled baggage rates. Delta airlines once again impressed by placing second (1.36 percent) in least misplaced baggage. Virgin America was first at a 0.76 percent rate, though had much less total baggage reports (484), than Delta (13,703).

Oversales refer to the number of passengers who hold confirmed reservations, but are denied boarding because the flight is oversold. Oversales rate on U.S. Airlines improved from 0.82 percent to 0.60 percent from January-March of 2015 to January-March of 2016.