Report: Air Travel Sees Huge Drop in Customer Complaints

Even though there was an increase in late flights, customer complaints went down in 2013.

In a revealing report conducted by collaborating researchers from Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, it appears that the air travel industry has taken great strides in customer satisfaction. The report explained that several U.S.-based airlines had their best ratings ever. However, what was curious about the numbers was the fact that there were more bags mishandled and an increase in late flights.

The researchers looked at a wide range of data, including complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and government statistics related to on-time performance, lost luggage and passengers getting bumped to later flights. What they discovered was that on-time flights actually decreased from 81.3 percent in 2012 to 78.4 percent in 2013. In fact, only two airlines actually improved in this category: American Airlines and United Airlines.

When it came to bag handling, the rate rose by 5 percent during the same time frame. Virgin America was deemed the best in the category, while American Eagle remained the worst. The rate of passengers getting bumped fell by 8 percent, which is one positive statistic in the report. In this category, Southwest Airlines came out on top while Frontier Airlines fell.

Despite the less-than-stellar data on the airline industry, it appeared that airline customer satisfaction remained in good standing, as the rate of complaints dropped by 15 percent.

United Could be the Reason Behind Odd Results
According to the Associated Press, the merger between Continental and United may be behind the high rates of customer service during 2013. In 2012, there were several network outages with web-based purchases that caused quite a stir. In fact, several hundreds of flights were grounded as a result of the snafu, and thousands of passengers likely took to the DOT to file their complaints. However, in 2013, it appears that the merger's growing pains had subsided.

Researchers also noted that many travelers may not know that they can file a complaint with the government, as many travelers will look to their private carrier to voice any complaints or concerns.

"The DOT can't comp you miles or comp you a voucher – only the airlines can do that," Chris Lopinto, CEO of ExpertFlyer.com, explained to the Associated Press. "A passenger might not think to file with DOT."

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