Airline Consumer Performance Improving - Slowly

The most recent Airline Quality Rating (AQR) industry score for 2011 shows an industry that has again improved in overall quality over the previous year. As an industry, performance in 2011 was the best in the 21 year history of the Airline Quality Rating, according to the 2012 study released by Purdue University and Wichita State University.

Of the 15 carriers rated in both 2010 and 2011, 10 carriers improved in Airline Quality Rating scores. Frontier had the largest improvement in overall score, while Continental and Mesa had the largest decline in AQR score for 2011.

The overall industry AQR score was better in 2011 than in 2010, due to continued improvement in industry performance in all four areas tracked.

As an industry, the AQR criteria shows that on-time arrival percentage was better (80.0 percent in 2011 compared to 79.8 percent in 2010), mishandled baggage rates improved to 3.35 per 1,000 passengers in 2011 from 3.49 per 1,000 passengers in 2010, involuntary denied boardings per passenger served decreased to 0.78 per 10,000 passengers in 2011 from 1.08 per 10,000 passengers in 2010, and consumer complaint rates decreased to 1.19 per 100,000 passengers in 2011 from 1.22 per 100,000 passengers in 2010.

Of the 9,425 complaints registered with Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding all U.S. domestic carriers, 49.2 percent were for either flight problems or baggage handling problems. The AQR is based on DOT data and covers domestic air carriers and key consumer indexes of performance.

Taking all 15 rated airlines together, the AQR score for the industry improved from a level of -1.20 in 2010 to -1.08 in 2011. With a mixed bag of gains and losses across the 15 carriers rated, the gain in AQR score for the industry is a positive sign, the study reports.

“The improvement trend in AQR scores since 2007 speaks well of the industry maintaining in difficult times,” according to the AQR report. 


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