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Airline consumer complaints soar in 2015

Star-Telegram

Travelers are increasingly dissatisfied with U.S. airlines and they are letting the government know it.

The U.S. Department of Transportation received over 20,000 complaints from consumers about airlines in 2015, a 29.8 percent increase from the year before, acccording to a new government report. Over 6,000 complaints were related to flight cancellations and delays while over 3,000 were related to baggage problems, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics said.

Fort Worth-based American Airlines had the most complaints with 3,983, however when the number of complaints is compared to the number of enplaned passengers, it had a rate of 3.36 per 100,000 enplaned passengers.

Spirit Airlines had the highest rate of complaints with 11.73 per 100,000 enplaned passengers and Frontier Airlines had the second highest rate with 7.86. Alaska Airlines had the fewest number of complaints, 115 for a rate of 0.50.

Even with winter storm Goliath causing flight delays and cancellations in December, on-time arrival rates at U.S. airlines improved in December to 77.8 percent, up from 75.3 percent in December 2014. Airlines did have a higher cancellation rate of 1.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from 1.4 percent in the same month last year.

American Airlines ranked fifth with an on-time rate of 79.2 while Dallas-based Southwest Airlines ranked eighth with an on-time rate of 76.1 percent. Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time rate of 93 percent and Spirit Airlines had the worst with only 68.7 percent of its flights arriving on time.

There were 11 domestic tarmac delays of more than three hours and three lengthy tarmac delays of international flights reported in December. American had three flights with lengthy tarmac delays on December 26 where flights headed to DFW Airport were diverted to Austin and sat on the tarmac there for over three hours.

Airlines improved the mishandled baggage rate in December to 4.04 reports per 1,000 passengers, down from 4.26 in December 2014.

Rank

Carrier

On-Time Arrival Rate

1

Hawaiian Airlines

93.0

2

Alaska Airlines

85.3

3

Delta Air Lines

83.6

4

Envoy Air

80.4

5

American Airlines

79.2

6

United Airlines

77.9

7

ExpressJet Airlines

77.3

8

Southwest Airlines

76.1

9

Frontier Airlines

75.0

10

SkyWest Airlines

72.9

11

Virgin America

71.1

12

JetBlue Airways

70.1

13

Spirit Airlines

68.7

Total

77.8

Source: Bureau of Trannsportation Statistics

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