Study: Airlines getting worse
Trend of bumped passengers, lost bags likely to continue Monday, April 02, 2007Jennifer C. KerrAssociated Press
Washington - More airline passengers bumped, more bags lost and fewer on-time flights. For the third year in a row, those problems grew worse for the industry, according to an annual study that rates airline quality.
"They just don't get it yet," said Dean Headley, an associate professor at Wichita State University and co-author of the study being released today.
The study does not include information from recent weather-related flight delays such as the ones that left JetBlue and United Airlines planes idling for hours on taxi- ways.
An industry spokesman does not expect travel woes to improve anytime soon.
"We're going to see more delays and those delays translate to cancellations, mishandled bags and unhappy passengers," said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, a trade group for the major U.S. carriers. "It's not a pretty picture."
Castelveter blamed the majority of delays on bad weather.
Making matters worse, Castelveter said, more planes are going to be in the air in the coming years and the air traffic control system can't handle the growth.
Congress, he said, needs to provide more money to update the system for increased traffic and weather problems.
The Airline Quality Rating report, compiled annually since 1991, looked at 18 airlines and was based on Transportation Department statistics. The research is sponsored by the Aviation Institute at University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wichita State University.
Among the conclusions:
Southwest had the lowest number of complaints in 2006, 0.18 per 100,000 passengers. United and US Airways were tied with the most complaints, 1.36.
Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance (93.8 percent) for 2006, followed by Frontier Airlines (80.7 percent) and Southwest (80.2 percent). Atlantic Southeast Airlines had the worst on-time performance (66 percent). On-time was defined as within 15 minutes of the scheduled arrival time. Canceled and diverted flights counted as late.
The biggest disappointment came in the rate of mishandled bags, Headley said.
Last year, 6.50 bags were lost, stolen or damaged, for every 1,000 passengers, compared with 6.06 in 2005. Hawaiian had the best baggage handling; Atlantic Southeast the worst.
The increase in lost bags comes when at least one domestic carrier - Spirit Airlines - is planning a new fee for passengers who check their bags.
"It will set off an absolute atomic bomb," Headley said.
This comes as no surprise to those of us who fly a lot.
My favorite airline to fly is Continental. The one I detest flying, is U.S. Air. Unfortunately, many of the flights I take out of Philadelphia, are on U.S. Air. They treat you like crap. Just this last flight I was on, the landing gear was screwed up. I'm wondering about their maintenance?
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