My recent flights between Minneapolis and Los Angeles were seamless, even during a busy spring break week. The flight to LAX arrived so early that we sat on the tarmac for 10 minutes until a gate opened. Then there was the experience of my husband, who one month earlier faced a long, frustrating wait for a flight home from LaGuardia because his commuter jet was grounded while larger (and quite full) planes took off.
While the LAX flight was more indicative of airline performance — most fly on schedule — the La Guardia trip could have been seen as foreshadowing.
According to the Air Quality Report released last week, airline performance slipped badly in 2014. There were more late flights, more lost bags, more bumped passengers and more complaints.
The report, which is based on 2014 complaints filed with the Department of Transportation, was produced by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University. It shows that in 2014, the percentage of flights arriving on time fell to 76.2 percent, from 78.4 percent in 2013. Last year also saw increased rates of lost, stolen or delayed bags; passengers getting bumped; and consumer complaints. Delta received 0.72 complaints per 100,000 customers, ranking better than United (with 2.71) and American (2.12).
I hope airline performance improves and complaints go down. But reports like this put airlines on alert. They are in the business of making money, but they’ll make less if fewer people want to fly with them. So if you should have a lousy experience, report it to the DOT. Get information about filing via phone, mail or the Web at www.dot.gov/airconsumer/file-consumer-complaint.
Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at email@example.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg. ___
This article was written by Kerri Westenberg from Star Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.