Lonely Planet Writer

American airline passenger complaints up 30%

Airline passenger complaints went up by 30% in 2015 over 2014, according to the US Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

Flight prices have gone down this year.
Departure board. Image by John Seb Barber / CC BY 2.0

The report measure consumer complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. In 2015, the department got 20,170 complains, while 15,539 were received in 2014.

The complaints cover issues from flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, consumer service, disability, and discrimination.

Spirit Airlines had the highest rate of complaints, with 11.73 filed for every 100,000 passengers. The average for the 13 largest US airlines was 1.90 per 100,000 reports the LA Times.

Spirit also has the lowest percentage of on-time arrivals at 68.7%, compared to the average of 77.8%. JetBlue ranked behind Spirit with 70.1% and Virgin America was third with 71.1.

The best performing airlines for high on-time arrival rates was Hawaiian Airlines (93%), Alaska Airlines (85.3%) and Delta Air Lines (83.6).

The airlines with the highest rates of cancelled flights were Envoy Air (3.8%), ExpressJet Airlines (3.4%) and SkyWest Airlines (2.9%). If you want to avoid delays, the best bets are Hawaiian Airlines (0.1%), Delta Air Lines (0.3%) and JetBlue Airways (0.3%).

There was improvement in one area that can cause much annoyance for passengers – carriers had a mishandled baggage rate of 3.24 per 1,000 passengers in 2015, down from 2014’s rate of 3.61.