Airline complaints up 77 percent

Buried in the latest government figures about the airline industry is one number that is bound to fill every air traveler with dread: Complaints are up an eye-popping 77 percent from a year ago.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics disclosed that sobering fact in a news release this morning. Buried it, actually. You have to scroll halfway down to see it.

“In April, the Department received 1,246 complaints from consumers about airline service, up 76.7 percent from the 705 complaints received in April 2006,” it says. “But 4.9 percent fewer than the 1,310 filed in March 2007.”

Ah, March. Remember all of those weather delays? Hardly a fair comparison.

Here’s the full report.

Have a look. Go on. It shows just how far the airline industry has fallen, in terms of customer service.

Among the worst performers: US Airways is the hands-down winner — or should I say loser? — with 245 complaints, or 4.82 complaints per 100,000 enplanements.

Just to put that into perspective: one of every four complaints about a specific airline in April was about US Airways. (There were 955 of those, according to the government.)

Other airlines of note included United Airlines (2.59 complaints per 100k) and Delta Air Lines (2.09 complaints per 100k).

You don’t need me to tell you that it’s going to be a long, hot summer for air travel. You don’t need the government to tell you, either.

But you can’t say you haven’t been warned.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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