It's Looking Like a Record Year for US Airline Complaints

Consumer complaints doubled in first 5 months of 2023 compared to same period in 2022
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2023 1:04 PM CST
It's Looking Like a Record Year for US Airline Complaints
A traveler looks at a flight board with delays and cancellations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Early data suggests this could be another record year for consumer complaints against US airlines. A report from the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), based on data from the Department of Transportation, finds complaints against US airlines more than doubled in the first five months of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022, which turned out to be a record year with 47,591 total. "The complaint data is pretty jaw-dropping," Teresa Murray, a PIRG consumer advocate, tells NPR, which reports more than 26,000 complaints were filed from January to May. The number of air travelers rose 14% year over year, while complaints jumped 109%, per the Los Angeles Times. The surge in demand has left "airlines and many air traffic control centers short-staffed," per NPR.

Flight cancellations dropped significantly in the first nine months of 2023. The biggest US airlines canceled 1.6% of flights, down from 2.8% in 2022, per NPR. Delays continue to be an issue, however, with the largest airlines reporting 76.2% on-time performance from January to September. While that's just slightly down from 76.6% in 2022, the figure has fallen below 77% only one other time in 15 years. Nearly 35% of complaints from January to May addressed delays, cancellations, and missed connections, while 20% were related to issues with refunds, per Business Traveler. Some 16% were related to lost or damaged items. The report notes the DOT's Office of Aviation Consumer Protection is behind schedule in releasing data due to the high number of complaints, per Business Traveler. (More airlines stories.)

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