In 2008, air travelers experienced their best year for customer service since 2004. The rate of lost bags, late arrivals, and consumer complaints were all down, according to an annual survey of airline quality.
The study found that all 17 airlines improved their overall performance in 2008, bouncing back from their worst-ever rankings in 2007. And, in a rare occurrence, the industry improved in all four major categories of the Airline Quality Rating: on‐time performance, baggage handling, denied boardings and customer complaints.
US Airways was the most improved airline last year, while United improved the least.
The greatest improvement arrived in the area of baggage handling. Consumers rated it higher by 25 percent. All 17 airlines improved in that category. AirTran had the best baggage handling rate, only 2.87 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. American Eagle had the worst baggage handling rate of 9.89 per 1,000 passengers. The industry average was 5.19 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers.
Hawaiian, judged the overall best airline for customer service last year, had the best on‐time performance in 2008 at 90 percent, while American Airlines had the worst on‐time performance with 69.8 percent. The industry average was 76 percent.
Jet Blue, the third best airline for customer satisfaction last year, had the lowest involuntary denied boarding rate at .01 per 10,000 passengers. Atlantic Southeast had the highest denied boarding rate at 3.89 per 10,000 passengers. The industry average was 1.10 denied boardings per 10,000 passengers.
Southwest Airlines continued to have the lowest consumer complaint rate, .25 per 100,000 passengers. US Airways had the highest consumer complaint rate of 2.01 per 100,000 passengers. The industry average was 1.15 complaints per 100,000 passengers.
Here is the 2008 national ranking of 17 busiest airlines based on their combined performance in four categories — bumping because of overbooking, on-time performance, mishandled baggage and customer complaints:
9. AMR Corp.’s American
10. US Airways
11. UAL Corp.’s United
16. American Eagle
17. Atlantic Southeast
The challenge going forward, researchers said, is whether the airlines will continue to improve performance as the economy gets back on its feet and more people start flying again.
Learn more about the Airline Quality Rating: http://www.aqr.aero/