Saturday, August 15, 2015

Southwest, Hawaiian, Virgin America top consumer relations report

Southwest, Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin America have top consumer relations so far in 2015, according to a US government August Air Travel Consumer Report.

This month’s Air Travel Consumer Report, published by the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), features half-year roundups of how the major US airlines are faring thus far in 2015 (January to June) in several passenger experience-related areas: consumer complaints, passengers-denied-boarding/oversales (aka involuntary “bumping”), and mishandled baggage.

Consumer complaints

In the consumer complaints category, Southwest Airlines was joined at the top (with the least amount of complaints) by Alaska Airlines, ExpressJet and SkyWest, all with complaints-per-100,000 enplanements of 0.65 or less (i.e., Southwest had 363 complaints out of 69.8 million enplanements).

Spirit Airlines had 937 complaints out of 8.4 million enplanements—an 11.2 complaints-per-100,000 enplanements rate, the year’s highest-to-date.

In the passengers-denied-boarding category, Hawaiian was accompanied at the top by JetBlue and Virgin America. All three had involuntary denied-boarding rates of 0.06 per 10,000 passengers (i.e., Hawaiian involuntarily bumped nine out of 5.1 million passengers). To compare, 1,708 out of 6.3 million Envoy Air passengers were involuntarily bumped during the same period—a 2.69 per 10,000 passengers rate.

Mishandled baggage

In the mishandled baggage category, JetBlue and Delta joined Virgin America in the top tier. Virgin America’s 0.81 mishandled baggage reports filed per 1,000 passengers was the year’s best record, equating to 2,661 reports filed from 3.3 million enplaned passengers year-to-date. Envoy brought up the end of this category as well, with 10.46 reports per 1,000 filed, or 66,306 mishandled baggage reports filed during the year so far, from a total of 6.3 million passengers.

DOT reported receiving a total of 9,542 consumer complaints about airline service from January to June, up 20.3% from the 7,935 complaints received during the first half of 2014. June 2015’s rise was 47.3% year-over-year, with 2,052 consumer complaints registered, compared to 1,393 in June 2014.

Tarmac delays

Among other statistics noted in the August report: two US domestic flights experienced tarmac delays exceeding three hours in June, while there weren’t any international flights reporting a tarmac delay on US soil exceeding four hours during the month. DOT is further investigating the month’s reported delays.

Of the delayed US domestic flights, the longest tarmac delay involved a June 17 JetBlue flight from Orlando bound for Austin diverted to San Antonio International Airport, where the aircraft spent 228 minutes on the tarmac before continuing on to its destination. Heavy rains associated with the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill affected southern Texas that day.

The other delayed US domestic flight involved a June 23 Southwest flight from Salt Lake City bound for BWI Airport diverted to Norfolk International Airport, where the aircraft and its passengers spent 181 minutes on the tarmac before continuing on. A violent hail, wind and thunderstorm storm hit the Baltimore region that evening.


US carriers canceled 1.8% of their scheduled domestic flights in June—9,120 out of 503,897 scheduled flights—up 0.7 point from May, but down 0.2 point from June 2014, when 10,133 flights were canceled. Hawaiian and Delta posted the month’s lowest cancellation records, with 0.1% and 0.3% of all flights canceled, respectively. Envoy had the highest cancellation record for June – 1,326 out of 25,407 flights, or 5.2%. Spirit was the month’s penultimate airline, with 479 of 9,826 flights canceled, or 4.9%
On-time arrivals

US domestic flights had a 74.8% overall on-time arrival rate in June, down 5.7 points from May, but improving on June 2014’s rate by 3 points. Hawaiian and Alaska Airlines usually top this category, and they did so again in June, with 90.5% and 87.4% of their flights arriving on-time, respectively.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic finished third and fourth, with 82.2% and 80.5% of their flights arriving on schedule, respectively. Spirit had June’s least-effective record, with 49.9% of its flights arriving on-time.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

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