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Airline Complaints on the Rise

Taylor Dyer

April 29, 2023

Airline complaints are rising, and consumers are not hesitating to voice their frustrations to the federal government. A recent report from the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) shows the number of airline complaints sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation and travel agents grew substantially from 15,342 in 2019 to at least 60,732 in 2022. 

Passenger travel has increased significantly since the troublesome pandemic era. According to the Department of Transportation, American carriers have recovered “92% of their pre-pandemic levels, 88.9% of international travel, and 92.45% of domestic traffic.” Also, according to the PIRG report, complaints quadrupled between 2019 and 2022 despite the number of flights vastly dropping.


According to the Consumer Watchdog Group’s report, the most common complaint centered on flight cancellations and delays in getting ticket refunds. DOT data shows last year alone, U.S. airlines canceled 190,038 domestic flights and delayed another 1.4 million. 


Airline companies have responded, saying some of the cancelations were beyond their control. This includes a response from Airlines for America, an industry trade group whose members include Delta, JetBlue, and United. The group said 66% of cancelations last year were due to weather.


Airline Rankings Based on Reports


According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Denver-based company, Frontier Airlines received the most complaints last year. The same data showed the company received 20 complaints per every 100,000 passengers who boarded an aircraft. 


Furthermore, findings in the report also highlighted that Frontier had the lowest percentage of on-time arrivals at 56.6% at all U.S. airports for December 2022. PSA Airlines had the highest rate at 82.9.           


Mishandled Baggage and Wheelchairs


Another common complaint among consumers was mishandled baggage and wheelchairs or scooters. According to an air travel consumer report, in 2022, Allegiant Air had the least amount of mishandled luggage, while American Airlines had the most reports. 


For December 2022, Allegiant Air also had the least amount of reports for mishandled wheelchairs and scooters, while Spirit Airlines had the most reports, according to the air travel consumer report. The findings did not explain the reason for the reports for each airline.


With the summer travel season fast approaching, it is unlikely that the problems certain airlines are experiencing will get better as the demand increases. However, one thing is clear; these consumer reports provide significant insight to help potential travelers choose the best option when buying a plane ticket for their next vacation. 



Edited By: Yasmin



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Tags: pandemic international watchdog Airline flights air travel domestic consumer DOT reports complaints rising Bureau of Transportation


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