Long lines, delays, lost baggage. If you've flown recently, chances are that it hasn't been a breeze and that's what makes frequent fliers ask -- how is this possible?
The "Airline Quality Rating Report" for 2013 has, in essence given the airlines a gold star.
In their latest report just released this week, the group gave the airlines their highest overall quality score since 1991, when the report started, and a better record than either of the last two years.
The airlines were judged in four categories: being on-time, the number of involuntary denied boardings -- also known as being "bumped" from a flight, mishandled baggage, and customer complaints.
First, the good news.
The study found that the airlines showed improvement in the number of denied boardings and in handling customer complaints. And the top airlines in those categories?
Jet Blue and Virgin America were rated best at not "bumping" customers from their flights and Southwest Airlines had the fewest customer complaints in 2013.
Now for the bad news, for both, you and for the airlines.
First -- when it came to on-time performance in 2013, the average number of on-time arrivals dropped from 81 percent in 2012 to 78 percent of the time last year, and only two airlines -- American and United -- had better on-time records in 2013 than they did in 2012.
If you really want to arrive on schedule, you'll have to fly Hawaiian Airlines. 93.3-percent of its flights arrived on-time last year, only a very minor decrease from its 93.4-percent rating in 2012.
And second -- more bags were mishandled last year too. Across all airlines, the number of mishandled bags increased from 3.07 bags per 1,000 passengers in 2012, to 3.21 bags per thousand fliers last year.
The researchers agreed the results of fewer involuntary denied boardings and a lower number of customer complaints along with a lower on-time record and more mishandled bags was a "mixed bag of gains and losses" but said the improvements across the industry during the tough economic situation of the last few years, was a "positive sign" for the industry.
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