July 18, 2024

WICHITA — Airtran moves into the number one spot in the latest airline quality rankings compiled by Wichita State University, bumping Hawaiian Airlines into the number two spot. On-time performance and baggage handling improved and involuntary denied boardings declined at many carriers last year, said Wichita State professor Dean Headley. Customer complaints is the only element where airlines’ performance declined, he said.
The higher rate of customer complaints is consistent with a busier air travel system, he said. “As the system adjusts to higher demand for air travel, more things are not going to go as planned for travelers,” Headley said. “Nearly a third of the customer complaints for last year were for flight problems, such as unplanned schedule changes, delays and cancellations.” An improving economy could mean more people traveling and crowded flight paths, leading to a break in the system and causing even more complaints about airline schedules, he said. “When you look at the past 10 years, you find that the airline industry performs most efficiently when the system isn’t stressed by high passenger volume,” he said. “Every time there are more planes in the sky and more people flying, airline performance suffers.” The Airline Quality Rating is a joint research project funded as part of faculty research activities at Wichita State and Purdue University.
Thursday, April 7, 9 a.m.

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