Airline complaints have surged by 320 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels, the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has revealed. The majority of passenger complaints made to the DOT were about canceled, delayed or rerouted flights, while lost and damaged luggage was the second biggest cause of complaint amongst consumers.
The DOT received 7,243 complaints about airlines in August – a 16.5 per cent rise on the number of complaints made in July and a whopping 322.8 per cent surge on August 2019.
In August, Delta Air Lines achieved the best on-time performance with nearly 83 per cent of the Atlanta-based carrier’s flights arriving on time. At the opposite end of the spectrum, JetBlue was the least punctual airline in August, with less than 66 per cent of its scheduled flights arriving on time.
JetBlue did better at avoiding cancellations, unlike United Airlines which had a cancellation rate of 3.6 per cent in August – the worst of any U.S. airline monitored by the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report.
The sharp increase in consumer complaints against the airline industry may, in part, be explained by the Biden administration’s recent attempts to improve service levels provided by airlines.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has repeatedly taken airlines to task over the perceived poor service they are providing consumers, as well as hidden fees and alleged unfair practices that persist throughout the industry.
And on Wednesday, President Biden criticized airline fees saying they “hit marginalized Americans the hardest, especially low-income folks, people of color”.
Earlier this year, the DOT published a dashboard of airline customer service policies to help consumers identify exactly what they are entitled to should their flight be delayed or canceled. The DOT is also looking to make new rules that would require airlines to publish all fees at the first opportunity.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.