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2015 airline consumer complaints up 29.8% from previous year

Staff writer |
Airline consumer complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division during 2015 were up 29.8 percent from 2014.

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This is according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

For all of last year, the Department received 20,170 complaints, up from the total of 15,539 received in 2014.

In December 2015, the Department received 1,565 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 46.9 percent from the total of 1,065 filed in December 2014 and up 19.6 percent from the 1,308 received in November 2015.

These complaints cover a range of aviation service issues such as flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, consumer service, disability, and discrimination.

The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 77.8 percent in December 2015, up from the 75.3 percent on-time rate in December 2014, but down from the 83.7 percent mark in November 2015.

For the full year 2015, the reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 79.9 percent, up from 76.2 percent in 2014.

The reporting carriers canceled 1.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in December 2015, up from both the 1.4 percent cancellation rate posted in December 2014 and the 1.0 percent rate in November 2015.

For the full year 2015, the reporting carriers canceled 1.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, an improvement over the 2.2 percent cancellation rate in 2014.

In December, airlines reported 11 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and three tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.

In 2015, there were 61 domestic flights with tarmac delays longer than three hours and 15 international flights with tarmac delays longer than four hours at U.S. airports. All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.

At the end of December, there were no regularly scheduled flight that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months or more.

This is the third month in a row in which there were no chronically delayed flights for two consecutive months or more. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for a single month is available from BTS.

In December, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported total delays of 22.17 percent – 5.70 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.84 percent in November.

7.64 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.18 percent in November; 6.13 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.60 percent in November; 0.66 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.42 percent in November; and 0.06 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.04 percent in November.

In addition, 1.68 percent of flights were canceled and 0.30 percent were diverted.

The report also includes reports of involuntary denied boarding, or bumping, for the fourth quarter of 2015 and calendar year 2015 from U.S. carriers who also report flight delay information.

These carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.72 per 10,000 passengers for the quarter, up from the 0.56 rate for the fourth quarter of 2014. The carriers posted a bumping rate of 0.76 per 10,000 passengers last year, an improvement over the 0.92 rate posted in 2014.


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