Most-Complained-About Airlines 2010
© Larry Downing/Reuters/Corbis
an airline gripe? Who doesn’t? Here are the U.S. airlines with the most
complaints—and how you can make your voice heard, too.
Sometimes air travel goes horribly
wrong. Take the Continental-operated ExpressJet Flight 2816. On August 7, 2009,
bad weather diverted the Houston-to-Minneapolis flight to Rochester, MN, where
the tiny commuter plane sat packed with 47 passengers from midnight to 6:30
a.m. No one was allowed off, and passengers were offered only one drink. When
the door was finally opened, they ran to the counter to complain.
this was an extreme example of flights gone bad, we’ve all had problems while
flying. The airline lost my bag! That gate agent was so rude! I missed my
connection! Sometimes we can brush it off as an unfortunate consequence of
air-travel convenience. But other times we just can’t let it go. Fortunately,
plenty of outlets exist for expressing our frustrations and rectifying
airline itself is the place to start. After all, it’s the one with the power to
refund your money or issue credit, which can go a long way toward assuaging
disappointing response from an airline, however, can leave you feeling
powerless. But Uncle Sam is on your side: since the mid ’80s, the Department of Transportation has held U.S.-based
airlines responsible for customer-service issues. The first step is to file a
complaint with the DOT’s Aviation Consumer
ACPE categorizes complaints by type—from oversales and fare misinformation to
rude customer service and false advertising—and an analyst investigates each
one. Not surprisingly, most passenger issues involve flight problems like
cancellations or delays. These aren’t always the airline’s fault, of course.
And passengers understand: the DOT says that complaints stemming from these
incidents usually have more to do with the airline’s handling of the situation.
issues are sent to the airlines for a resolution, but all problems—no matter
how large or small—are tallied in a monthly public report of complaints per
100,000 “enplanements” (one passenger boarding one flight). And that must cause
the airlines some degree of embarrassment, right?
while a push from the DOT may help your case, this forum doesn’t let you voice
your anger to the world. To help with that, upset passengers can tweet, start a
Facebook group, or register complaints on websites. In fact, it was a bad
airline experience that led Barcelona-based
entrepreneur Andres Kello to start his own site: AirlineComplaints.org, which has
almost 3,100 members. American Airlines receives the bulk of the site’s
complaints, says Kello, but “complaints about Delta tend to be the most
what airline is doing it right? On the DOT’s official report (on which we
relied for our list), that would be Southwest—the perennial consumer favorite
that registered the lowest number of complaints the past three years running.
The airline’s fans continually remark on the friendly customer service, which
Kello agrees can defuse a stressful trip. “Smiles,” he says, “don’t cost
airlines a penny.”