Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Looking ahead for air travel

If you were an airline passenger during the past year, you’d  probably agree that flying has become more tedious and less pleasant all around.  There really is less room between seats, not to mention that the seats themselves are smaller. Airlines have reconfigured cabins to accommodate more seats, even taking space from bathrooms to allow for more seats.  Road rage has given way to seat rage as travelers battle over whether to recline or not.

Overhead storage? It’s diminishing, too, and passengers must scramble to find a spot for their carry-on bag. Adding to the frustration, some airlines are now imposing fees for gate checking bags that don’t fit.
Add in additional fees for extra leg room, checking baggage, purchasing food items in transit, and additional security fees, and it’s no wonder many travelers are grumpy before they even board the plane.

Despite all that, Dean Headley, Airline Quality Rating co-author and associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University, says industry airline performance quality has generally improved each year since 2007. In 2013 airline performance was steady, with improvement trends during the first five months (December had the worst monthly ratings, however).
Recent airline consolidations will require time before it can be determined whether these mega-carriers provide better service for travelers—historically, that’s questionable.

In the meantime, the following ratings by the Airline Quality Rating system might prove helpful for booking your next flight: In 2013, the best performing airlines across the combined AQR categories were Virgin America, Jet Blue, Hawaiian, Delta, and Alaska. Hawaiian was best in on-time performance. Jet Blue and Virgin America were best in avoiding denied boardings. Virgin America was best in baggage handling. Southwest had the lowest rate of customer complaints.

The worst performing airlines across the combined AQR categories in 2013 were American Eagle, SkyWest, Express Jet, United, and Frontier. American Eagle, ExpressJet, and Frontier had the worst on-time performances. SkyWest had the worst rate of denied boardings. American Eagle had the highest rate of mishandled baggage. Frontier had the highest rate of customer complaints.

The best things you can do as a traveler are plan ahead and then bring your most patient attitude to the terminal.



Irene S. Levine said...

Unfortunately, in my limited experience, looks like things are getting worse not better.

Beverly Burmeier said...

Agreed. Airlines don't cater to travelers the way they used to.