In the July 2022 Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR), the latest data shows that complaints nearly tripled in May 2022 compared to the same month in 2019.
Top Complaints Include Flight Disruptions and Lost Luggage
In May 2022 alone, the DOT received over 2,400 complaints from flyers, reflecting the continued chaos of the post-pandemic air travel rush. In May 2019, the agency only fielded 814 complaints, while flyers filed 1,220 complaints in May 2021 – over one year into the pandemic.
While refunds were the top consumer complaint, flight problems were the second most common issue. Flyers filed 571 complaints about cancellations, 257 complaints on delays and 133 misconnection complaints. The remaining top five complaint categories were regarding reservations, ticketing and boarding, baggage, and airfares.
Although flyers expressed more frustration with airlines, the actual on-time performance was not much different compared to the same month pre-pandemic. In May 2022, flights were on time 77.13% of the time, compared to 77.9% in May 2019. The biggest reasons for hold-ups include air carrier delays (defined as delays “due to circumstances within the airline’s control,” including crew problems), late arriving aircraft and national aviation system delays. Only 1.9% of flights were cancelled in May 2022.
The number of mishandled bags also increased compared to the same time last year, leading to a spike in complaints. Out of over 42 million bags boarded on commercial aircraft, 237,828 were mishandled, for a total of 0.56 mishandled per 100,000 enplaned. American Airlines and their network mishandled the most bags, with a total of 76,059 were “lost, damaged, delayed, or pilfered.” Delta Air Lines mishandled 44,972 bags in the month, while Southwest Airlines mishandled 41,232 in the month.
Wheelchairs and scooters were not invulnerable to the losses. Over 1,100 mobility devices were mishandled during the month, with the most lost by American. Southwest came in second, while Delta mishandled the third most devices.
Data Comes After Flyers Share Stories of Frustrations with Media
The data comes as flyers are taking their complaints to the court of public opinion and sharing their nightmare stories with the media. While one family says American tried to charge $30,000 in change fees, another claims United’s cancellations and lost luggage cost them $16,000 in replacing items.
Source: frugal travel guy