According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airline on-time rates have improved in August, but the number of complaints filed by disgruntled passengers has risen considerably.
A flight is considered to have arrived on-time provided that it reaches its destination within 15 minutes of its published schedule. As authorities report, the average on-time rate recorded among the nation’s major airline carriers was at 80.3% in August.
This means progress has been made since July, when on-time performance was at 78.1%. The figure is also higher than the one reported last August, when schedule adherence was at 77.7%.
The company whose on-time performance was the best was Delta Air Lines, with a rate of 85.5%. The second carrier in this ranking was Alaska Airlines, with on-time rates at 82.9%.
American Airlines and its Texas subsidiary Envoy Air stuck to their timetable around 80.6% and 80.5% of the time, respectively, ranking 6th and 7th in the top.
The carrier with the poorest performance was Spirit Airlines, with a schedule adherence of just 63.7%. It’s the third time in a row that the ultra-low-cost airline has had the lowest rating in the statistics report published by the government. Jet Blue Airways also fared similarly, scoring just 74% when it came to abiding by scheduled arrival times.
Meanwhile, the number of customer complaints concerning U.S. airlines has risen dramatically. Last year, 1,107 grievances were filed with the government, and this year 1,633 accusations against carriers have already been reported.
However, the number may be much higher in reality, since the majority of travelers prefer to express their dissatisfaction with the services they have been offered directly to the airlines. Few of them actually contact federal authorities in order to lament about their experience.
According to David Siegel, CEO of Frontier Airlines, around 30 complaints are filed directly with his company, for every one which addresses the government.
The carriers with the lowest rate of dissatisfaction are Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines, whereas the company with the greatest number of displeased customers is Spirit Airlines, as the Department of Transportation has revealed.
Half as many complaints concern Frontier Airlines, the carrier ranked the second when it comes to passenger dissatisfaction.
While these companies have low fares, they tend to charge travelers more for other services, such as printing boarding passes or accepting carry-on bags. As a result, passengers who prefer discount airlines are 20 times more likely to issue grievances against them.
Usually, the most common source of vexation concerns flight delays. For example, on August 20 jet passengers from 2 separate planes were stuck on airplane tarmacs for more than 3 hours. One of them was operated by Delta Air Lines, while the other flight belonged to PSA Airlines, a subsidiary of US Airways.
Incidents such as ticketing issues have also caused annoyance among customers, while other passengers have been unhappy with customer service and air fares. On the other hand, mishandled baggage rates have dropped in August, amounting to 3.33 reports per 1,000 passengers.
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