Flying Keeps Getting Worse, but Americans Have Given Up on Complaining

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According to the latest Airline Quality Ratings report, U.S. flights are running later and airlines are losing more luggage — but American fliers are filing fewer complaints with the Transportation Department.

Bloomberg Businessweek notes that the report, put together by industry researchers using operational data, found that flights across the industry were delayed about 4 percent more often in 2013 than in 2012, with the on-time rate falling from 81.8 percent in 2012 to 78.4 percent in 2013. American Eagle was the worst offender, with flights sticking to their schedules only 72.1 percent of the time. American Eagle also lost passenger bags more often than other airlines, mishandling the baggage of 5.9 customers out of every 1,000. That figure is slightly better than American Eagle's 2012 baggage-fail rate. Bloomberg Businessweek adds that Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance, Southwest the lowest complaints, and Virgin Atlantic the fewest lost bags. 

According to report authors Dr. Brent D. Bowen Dr. Dean E. Headley, the ratings are based on a number service-quality metrics and weighted according to how much customers care about each one. The "on-time" metric is most heavily weighted, followed by "denied boardings" if a flight is overbooked and "mishandled baggage." Customer complaints to DoT run the gamut, including criticism of airlines' handling of refunds, disabilities, animals, oversales and more. 

And, according to the study, we've resigned ourselves to shoddy service from airlines. According to the Associated Press, customer complaints to the government fell by 15 percent last year, from 1.43 in 2012 to 1.13 per 100,000 passengers in 2013. Notably, the AQR doesn't take into account customer complaints to the airline itsel. 

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