Complaints Against U.S Airlines Up Nearly 270%

Everyone knows that flying commercially comes with its share of frustrations. However, the Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) released on Friday by the U.S Department of Transportation found a 34.9% increase in air travel service complaints from May 2022 to June 2022. Even more shocking is that the number of total complaints against airlines is now up nearly 270% from pre-pandemic levels.

Labor Shortage

The overwhelming majority of customer complaints and frustrations can be attributed to the labor shortage stemming from layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This staffing challenge is not unique to aviation, but it creates a ripple effect throughout the national airspace system unlike other industries.  The shortage of pilots, gate agents, ground handlers, and air traffic controllers has increased delays and cancellations. Out of the 5,862 complaints received in June, more than a quarter directly mentioned cancellations and delays. Another quarter of complaints were due to issues with refunds. Even when a customer is not re-booking their cancelled flight and decide to use an alternate form of transportation, it is difficult to get a customer service rep on the line to process a refund. Delayed refunds are now a headline issue as airlines are required by law to refund a customer for a cancelled flight. In fact, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) is pursuing enforcement action against 10 airlines that have refused or delayed refund requests. The OACP is actively investigating refund practices of foreign airlines that have cancelled their flights into or out of the U.S as well.

Damage Control

Also, last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to U.S. airlines challenging them to improve their customer service plans in relation to delays, cancellation, and refunds. He also announced that the Department has created an interactive online dashboard that will make it easier for the traveling public to determine what services such as hotels and meals would be provided to them when the cause of a cancellation or a lengthy delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control. This comes at a great time as peak holiday travel times are quickly approaching as well as the delays associated with the busy season. The dashboard is intended to assist customers travelling on the 10 largest U.S. carriers and their subsidiaries. This accounts for approximately 96% of total domestic travel customers. Although this helps customers understand their rights, it doesn’t contribute to reducing delays.

Norfolk Aviation Can Help

General aviation is a great way to avoid the fuss at the airport. You don’t have to wait for a TSA screening, you can leave on your own schedule, and you may be able to land at an airport much closer to your final destination. If you are looking to buy or sell your airplane, we can help you find what you’re looking for! Give us a call at 757-724-6047 or visit our website for more information.

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