Last Year, Frontier Was the Most Complained-About US Airline

Overall, complaints were more than 5 times higher than in 2019
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2023 7:00 PM CDT
Air Passenger Complaints Quintupled From 2019 to 2022
Frontier Airlines jets sit at gates at Denver International Airport.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Airline passengers complained a lot last year—and they had a lot to complain about, according to a report from the Public Interest Research Group. The group says complaints against US and foreign airlines, travel agents, and tour operators hit 77,656 in 2022, more than five times the number in 2019, NBC reports. The only year with more complaints in records going back to 1997 was 2020, with 103,000 complaints—and last year, unlike in the first year of the pandemic, most of the complaints were against US airlines, not foreign ones.

The airline with the highest passenger complaint rate was Frontier Airlines, which had 20.26 complaints per 100,000 passengers, more than double the rate of Spirit Airlines, which had 10.1 complaints per 100,000 passengers, according to Department of Transportation statistics. JetBlue was third with 8.96. At the bottom of the table of US airlines, Seattle-based Horizon Airlines had just 1.09 complaints per 100,000 passengers. PIRG said Denver-based Frontier also had the worst record for involuntarily bumping passengers off flights, CBS reports. Delays and cancellations caused the highest number of complaints, followed by issues with refunds and lost or mishandled luggage.

Federal officials say more than 190,000 domestic flights were canceled last year and another 1.4 million, though airline industry groups say the disruption was mostly weather-related and out of airlines' control. "Air travel is just a mess right now,” said Teresa Murray, consumer watchdog at US PIRG Education Fund and author of the report. "Airlines often post unrealistic schedules, they cancel flights and they drag their feet with refunds. Airlines and online ticket agents just don’t face enough consequences when they abuse customers.” (More Frontier Airlines stories.)

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