A new report showing airline improvements across the board comes on the tail of two recent examples of just how bumpy air travel can be.
The 2016 Airline Quality Rating report debuted today by professors at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University found that airlines are flying on time more often, mishandling fewer bags, getting fewer complaints and denying boarding to fewer passengers.
But over the last few days, Delta Air Lines canceled more than 3,000 flights after a storm at its home base of Atlanta. Chicago-based United Airlines created an uproar on social media after a video showed security agents drag a man off a plane on Sunday after he refused to give up his seat on the overbooked United flight. (See video below.)
Fellow passenger Audra D. Bridges posted the video on Facebook while the plane was boarding at Chicago O’Hare International Airport headed to Louisville, Ky. She also wrote on the post: “United airlines overbooked the flight. They randomly selected people to kick off so their standby crew could have a seat. This man is a doctor and has to be at the hospital in the morning. He did not want to get off. We are all shaky and so disgusted.”
Here was United CEO’s response on Facebook:
United offered compensation to four volunteers who would leave the overbooked flight so four crew members could get to Louisville for work the next day, according to Bridges’ report in the Louisville, Ky., Courier Journal. With no takers, United randomly selected four passengers; three left the plane but the fourth, the man who has dragged away, refused to leave, according to the news report.
United ranked No. 8 among 12 airlines in the Airline Quality Rating report. Alaska Airlines, which recently acquired Virgin America, as the No. 1 U.S. carrier.
Here are some other findings from the report, which is based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation:
On-time performance: The share of on-time arrivals rose to 81.4 percent in 2016 from 79.9 percent in 2015. The DOT considers a flight on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of its scheduled time.
Customer complaints: The rate of complaints filed with the government declined 20 percent.
Baggage: The rate of lost, stolen or delayed bags fell 17 percent.
Bumped passengers: The rate of passengers bumped from oversold flights fell 18 percent.