U.S. Consumer Air Travel Complaints Up 35 Percent in June Over May

The number of consumer air travel complaints in June
increased nearly 35 percent month over month to more than 5,860 and were nearly
270 percent above pre-pandemic levels, the U.S. Department of Transportation
announced Friday. 

The month-over-month increase should not necessarily come as
a surprise as domestic airlines experienced widely reported disruptions in
service beginning around Memorial
Day Weekend and lasting into June. As a result, many
carriers adjusted their summer schedules to improve operations.

Nearly 583,600 flights operated in June, representing about
86 percent of the number of flights operated in June 2019, according to DOT.
That figure also was up 3.4 percent year over year, but down 1.3 percent month
over month. The reporting carriers in June canceled approximately 3.1 percent
of their scheduled domestic flights, compared with 1.6 percent in June 2021,
and 2 percent in May 2022.

Flight problems—cancellations, delays or other deviations
from airlines’ schedules—received the highest number of complaints, accounting
for nearly 29 percent of the total. The three carriers with the lowest
percentages of canceled flights were Hawaiian Airlines (0.1 percent), Alaska
Airlines (0.7 percent) and Frontier Airlines (1.1 percent), according to DOT.
The carriers with the highest rates of canceled flights included American
Airlines (4.4 percent), Delta Air Lines (3.9 percent) and United Airlines (3.5
percent).

One in four complaints concerned refunds, according to DOT.
The agency this month submitted
a proposal for strengthened consumer protections on air ticket refunds.

In addition, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete
Buttigieg last week sent a letter to U.S. airlines “challenging [them] to
improve their customer service plans” and announced that the agency will create
an interactive dashboard before Labor Day “to make it easier for the traveling
public to determine the services such as hotels and meals that would be
provided to them when the cause of a cancellation or a lengthy delay was due to
circumstances within the airline’s control.”

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