Airline consumer complaints up 300 percent from pre-pandemic levels, according to USDOT report

© Shutterstock

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released its Air Travel Consumer Report for April 2022, which showed that consumer complaints against airlines were up more than 300 percent from before the pandemic in April 2019.

The report uses airline operational data compiled for the month on consumer complaints received, mishandled baggage, on-time performance, and mishandled wheelchairs and scooters.

In April, 566,893 flights operated, 13.1 percent less flights than those operated in pre-pandemic April 2019. Operated flights were 20.3 percent higher than April 2021 but 2.6 percent less than March 2022.

A total of 580,290 scheduled domestic flights were canceled. Only 15,726 were canceled in April 2019.

The on-time arrival rate decreased 3.8 percent from pre-pandemic levels. Delta Air Lines had the highest on-time arrival rate at 81.9 percent while Spirit Airlines had the lowest at 58.5 percent.

Delta Air Lines also had the lowest rate of canceled flights at 1.1 percent. Spirit Airlines had the highest at 10.3 percent.

The department received 5,079 complaints about airline service, spiking 321.5 percent from April 2019. The majority of the complaints concerned either refunds or cancellations, delays, or other deviations from airlines’ schedules.

Of the complaints, 9.8 percent were against travel companies, 27.7 percent were against foreign air carriers, and 62.5 percent were against U.S. carriers.

Airlines reported 33 tarmac delays for domestic flights of more than three hours.