There is some good news for air travelers. Airlines for America (A4A) reports the best performance ever in 2011 for three key customer-service metrics, including the best on-time arrival rate for any fourth quarter in history.
Based on the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report, airlines also posted the lowest-ever recorded annual rates in mishandled baggage and bumped passengers. “Our members are committed to and are delivering levels of safety and customer service that no other industry, given its complexity, matches and the airlines are working to improve on that every day, making air travel even safer and more efficient for passengers and shippers,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
“Airlines know how important it is for customers to arrive on time with their bags, and today’s report demonstrates the significant investments they have made in technology, training and processes to improve the travel experience," Calio said.
According to the DOT report, new records were set in three categories:
• On-Time Arrivals: For the fourth quarter of 2011, U.S. airlines recorded an 85.07 percent on-time arrival rate, the best ever for any fourth quarter and the second best of any three-month period recorded by DOT. The previous fourth-quarter record was in 2001 with an 83.24 percent on-time rate. The best on-time rate for any quarter was 85.17 percent in the third quarter of 1991. For full-year 2011, the on-time arrival rate was 79.6 percent, representing the third year in a row that the industry had an on-time rate of nearly 80 percent.
• Mishandled Baggage: In 2011, there were 3.39 reports of mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers, an all-time low for the metric. The 2011 rate represented a 26 percent improvement from 2010. The statistic also shows that nearly 99.7 percent of U.S. airline passengers had their bags delivered on time.
• Bumped Passengers: In 2011, U.S. airlines reported 0.81 involuntary denied boardings per 10,000 passengers, constituting a 5 percent drop from 2010 and an all-time low.
The new data also shows that consumer complaints dropped in 2011 to 1.18 per 100,000 passengers, versus 1.20 in 2010, A4A reports.