Aviation Safety

Rise in Passenger Complaints Against US Airlines in 2023

Main image to the post Rise in Passenger Complaints Against US Airlines in 2023

Complaints lodged against US airlines surged by close to 29% in 2023, drawing attention to varying levels of passenger discontent among different carriers. An analysis by the US Public Interest Research Group of US Department of Transportation data revealed that Frontier, jetBlue, and Spirit Airlines were the top three airlines with the highest ratio of complaints to passengers, with Frontier leading the pack at 33 complaints per 100,000 passengers, followed by Spirit with 15, and jetBlue with 13.

Frontier, as the most-complained-about airline, attributed the decrease in complaints to improved operational reliability, the reopening of their call center, and the launch of the New Frontier, which features transparent low-cost pricing and no change fees. On the other hand, Alaska Airlines garnered the least number of complaints at just two per 100,000 passengers, showcasing a notable difference in passenger satisfaction levels between carriers. The analysis noted a concerning trend where passenger complaints escalated at a rate nearly three times faster than the 11% rise in the number of passengers from 2022 to 2023, culminating in a record-breaking 61,233 complaints over the year.

Interestingly, the surge in complaints coincided with a record number of over 3 million passengers passing through US airports during the Fourth of July weekend, underscoring the urgency for improved airline services and customer experiences. The analysis also shed light on various grievances captured by the DOT data, including 2.8 million complaints related to mishandled, lost, or damaged luggage, as well as 11,527 reports of checked wheelchairs or scooters facing similar issues. While complaints had held steady since 2004, a significant spike in grievances was observed during the pandemic, notably in 2020, indicating a turning point in passenger dissatisfaction.

In response to mounting complaints, the Biden administration has pushed for greater transparency from US airlines regarding hidden fees, prompting legal action from major carriers against the DOT, alleging overreach of authority. This ongoing regulatory battle highlights the challenges faced by the airline industry in addressing customer concerns while navigating complex regulatory frameworks.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09