Airline Compplaints

April 4, 2007

Air planeThanks to the smarter travel blogI still have my half written Thailand stories coming, but in the meantime… I saw a recent story from USA Today about Airline Quality based on user complaints. Many other news sources have picked up on it particularly the bit about United and US Air having lots more complaints than Southwest:

“Southwest Airlines had the lowest consumer complaint rate, with 0.18 per 100,000 passengers. United and US Airways had the highest, both with 1.36.” This may be true, but I suspect a selection bias in the fliers as well as a lack of controlling for the weather. I posit that people flying Southwest are: A) Less likely to be experienced business travelers that know how/what to complain about. B) More likely to be cost conscious consumers who will suffer the ever increasing indignities of travel silently. C) Like Hawaiian air (the carrier with the least complaints) Southwest flies routes that have warmer weather and less precipitation.

If you do want to complain about an Airline the WSJ column The Middle Seat Why It Makes Sense To Contact the DOT March 27, 2007; Page D3 points out that “Some airlines admit they do pay more attention to consumer complaints if travelers send them to the DOT, which categorizes and tallies complaints and publishes monthly rankings of airline performance.”

You can complain at: or by calling the DOT at 202-366-2220 where complaints can be recorded. If you are lucky you’ll get a $25.00 coupon for your next flight that costs $400 or more, that you can use only at a ticket counter in the airport. Lucky you!


  1. I am not sure your assumption that business travelers complain more than regular passengers is true.

    Comment by SWL — April 4, 2007 @ 9:52 pm

  2. I can’t be sure, but I suspect that the more you travel the more you’ll come to have expectations that can be disappointed, so the more you’ll complain.

    Comment by Jonathan — April 5, 2007 @ 12:51 am

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