Study: Flying Really Is Getting Worse

Researchers find bad news in all 4 big areas studied
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2015 7:22 AM CDT
Study: Flying Really Is Getting Worse
In this Jan. 20, 2011, file photo, an American Eagle jet taxis at Boston's Logan International Airport.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

If you've ever found yourself complaining that flying was a much better experience back when you were a young'un, you're not just being a crotchety oldster: A study released today finds that flying is, in fact, worse than it used to be. The AP has highlights from the annual Airline Quality Rating report, which is based on government data for the 12 largest US airlines:

  • Your chances of being late: Just 76.2% of flights were on time last year, down from 78.4% the year prior. On-time performance took a hit at the four biggest US airlines: American, United, Delta, and Southwest. Really concerned about arriving when you're supposed to? Hawaiian Airlines has the best track record, with all but 8.1% of flights arriving on time.
  • Your chances of losing your bag: The rate of bags that got lost, stolen, or delayed last year rose 13% from 2013. If you want to hang on to your bag, Virgin America has the best stats in this category.

  • Your chances of not even making it on the flight: Thanks to overbooking, the rate of passengers getting bumped from flights was up 3% last year. Once again, Virgin America is your best bet if you want to avoid problems in this category.
  • Your chances of being unhappy: Last year, 22% more consumer complaints were filed with the government. The biggest, per flight problems (37.8%), baggage (14.3%), reservations/ticketing/boarding (11.3%), customer service (10.6%). The airline getting the least complaints? Alaska Airlines.
The study didn't hold good news for Envoy Air, a regional carrier that operates most American Eagle flights: It scored the worst in the first two categories, with 68.8% of flights arriving on time. In the third category, SkyWest and its subsidiary, ExpressJet, tied for the last slot. In the final category, Frontier scored worst. One problem? All the airline mergers that have happened in recent years, one of the study authors says, according to NBC News: "There is a lot of turmoil ... [the airlines] just seem to have not gotten their act together." (More air travel stories.)

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