Alexandra Lovejoy’s luggage is lost on her way to Spain. Iberia offers her 11 euros for the trouble. Is that enough? Continue reading…
Carol Weiss flew from Boston to Toulouse, France, on a flight booked through American Airlines and operated by Iberia. She arrived in Europe on May 13, but her checked bag arrived a week later, on May 20. Continue reading…
When Rosa Pasarin asks for a flight change, only to be offered a refund, can she expect Expedia to deliver? Find out. Continue reading…
Kathryn Frieze just wanted her money back.
She had paid the airline Iberia $176 for an “extra legroom” seat on a flight from Chicago to Madrid, but the airline rescheduled her flight, dropping her upgraded economy class seat. Her repeated attempts to reach the airline proved futile.
“I’m getting the runaround,” says Frieze, a retired French teacher from Wichita.
Here’s an important footnote to the airline industry’s year from hell. A closer look at the Transportation Department’s 2007 report card shows some carriers were likelier to lose your luggage, deny you boarding, get you to your destination late and provoke a written complaint. And some airlines were above it all.
Here’s a birds-eye view of the DOT’s report, by category. I’ve broken it down into in an easy-to-understand blog posting so that you can sort the winners from the sinners and make a more informed booking decision.
Which airline is likeliest to lose my luggage?
No surprises here. The Hawaiian carriers outperformed everyone else. Low fare carriers did better than legacy airlines. And regional carriers continued their underperforming streak.
Mishandled baggage (reports per 1,000 passengers)
1. Hawaiian Airlines (3.41)
2. Aloha Airlines (3.88)
3. AirTran Airways (4.06)
4. Northwest Airlines (5.01)
5. JetBlue Airways (5.23)
1. American Eagle (13.55)
2. Comair (11.40)
3. Atlantic Southeast (11.24)
4. Skywest (10.87)
5. Mesa Airlines (10.46)
The industry average for mishandled baggage was 7.03, compared with 6.73 in 2006. Two years ago, the top performer was Hawaiian (3.14) and the airline with the worst record was Atlantic Southeast (17.37).
Which airline will oversell its flight and bump me?
Among the best performers, there were no surprises except one: United Airlines. Legacy carriers routinely overbook their flights and then deny passengers boarding. But United seems to have gotten its act together. Delta, on the other hand, does not. It joined the bottom-feeding regional carriers.
Involuntary denied boardings per 10,000 passengers.
1. JetBlue Airways (.02)
2. AirTran Airways (.15)
3. Hawaiian Airlines (.17)
4. Aloha (.29)
5. United (.71)
1. Atlantic Southeast (4.50)
2. Comair (3.15)
3. Delta Air Lines (2.47)
4. Skywest (1.69)
5. Mesa Airlines (1.54)
The industry average last year was 1.12 involuntary denied boardings per 10,000 passengers, compared with 1 in 2006. JetBlue was the best performer in 2006, with .07 involuntary denied boardings, and Atlantic Southeast lost in the category, with 4.47 IDBs per 10k passengers.
Which airline am I most likely to complain about?
The legacy airlines were clear winners – I mean, losers – in the complaints category. If you were flying internationally, British Airways led by a wide margin.
1. US Airways (1,828)
2. American Airlines (1,617)
3. United Airlines (1,540)
4. Delta Air Lines (1,325)
5. Northwest Airlines (768)
1. British Airways (285)
2. Alitalia (173)
3. Air France (152)
4. Lufthansa (84)
5. Iberia (72)
Which online agencies am I most likely to complain about?
This is a relatively new category for the DOT report card. I would expect next year’s numbers to be higher, now that passengers are aware they can gripe about their online travel agency, too.
1. Orbitz (45)
2. Travelocity (35)
3. Expedia (30)
4. Cheaptickets (22)
5. Cheapoair/Priceline (tie) (16)
Which airline runs on time?
Again, the Hawaiian carriers and low-fare airlines dominated, with a surprise appearance by Delta. Rounding out the bottom are two legacy carriers and the usual suspects — regional carriers.
Overall percentage of reported flight operations arriving on time
1. Hawaiian (93.3)
2. Aloha (92.2)
3. Southwest (80.1)
4. Frontier (77.6)
5. Delta (76.9)
1. Atlantic Southeast (64.7)
2. Comair (67.9)
3. US Airways (68.7)
4. American (68.7)
5. American Eagle (69.1)
The industry average for 2007 was 73.4 percent, well below the historical average (over the last 20 years) of 78.3 percent.
What to make of these numbers?
If you want a quality flying experience in the lower 48, go for a low-fare carrier. If you’re into pain, try a legacy carrier or better yet, a regional airline.