US Airline Complaints Up 270% From 2019

The US Department of Transportation has revealed that air travel service complaints are up by nearly 270% compared with pre-pandemic levels. Complaints increased by a huge 34.9% from May to June alone!

The shocking figures were revealed by the US Department for Transportation in its Air Travel Consumer Report, which is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines.

United is just one of the airlines included in the Deparment’s report. Photo: Getty Images

June complaints go sky-high

Customers have been left unimpressed with the service they’ve been receiving over the last year. Since a strong rebound in travel demand, airlines have struggled with labor shortages after letting staff go during the pandemic. Sadly, for consumers, this has meant an increase in delays, cancellations, and a sometimes-chaotic flying experience.


Despite the progress of the US aviation market in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of flights in June 2022 was only 85% of 2019 levels. However, although fewer aircraft are flying, cancellations are up by 1.5%. For the first six months of 2022, the report also showed that the on-time arrival rate had worsened.

While the numbers were announced by a US body, this isn’t just an American issue. Of the 5,862 complaints received in June 2022, 57.7% were against US carriers, while 34.5% were against foreign air carriers. The remaining complaints were made against travel companies.

More than a quarter of the complaints were about flight problems – cancellations, delays, or other deviations from airlines’ schedules. Alarmingly, almost a quarter of the complaints were about refunds, a topic that has made the headlines continuously for all the wrong reasons.

In response to this, the US Department for Transportation said:

“The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that receive refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements. Many passengers who were initially denied refunds have since received the required refunds. The Department has taken and will take enforce

ment action against non-compliant airlines and ticket agents as necessary. OACP recently concluded its investigation of 10 airlines and is pursuing enforcement action against them for extreme delays in providing refunds for flights the airlines canceled or significantly changed. The Office is also actively investigating the refund practices of additional airlines flying to, from, or within the United States. “

Lost baggage

For consumers, getting in the air and to your destination on time isn’t the only headache, though. Many companies have also struggled with lost baggage and items. In June 2022, reporting marketing carriers handled 43 million bags and posted a mishandled baggage rate of 0.71%, up from 0.56% in May 2022.

The number of wheelchairs and scooters being mishandled by reporting airlines also increased from May 2022. This is an area the Department will be sure to investigate as disability-related complaints in June 2022 rose to 177 compared with 158 a month earlier. The Department has said that it is committed to combating all forms of discrimination and will act if it finds that any carrier violated Federal anti-discrimination statutes.

What do you think of these latest statistics? Let us know in the comments below!

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