Soaring Complaints: What Drove Airline Customers Crazy in 2015

The numbers are in, and it isn’t pretty. Here are the most common gripes, and the airlines that got the most thumbs down.

Americans have a lot to complain about when it comes to flying.

From lost bags to canceled flights, the number of airline customer complaints for the first half of 2015 soared by more than 20 percent compared with a year ago, according to recently released data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In the first six months of 2015, airline passengers filed 9,542 complaints, a marked increased from the 7,935 complaints filed during the same period in 2014.

So what’s really irking fliers these days? According to the most recent Air Travel Consumer Report:

  • Baggage problems: 1,417 complaints
  • Ticketing and boarding issues: 1,282 complaints
  • Flight cancellations: 1,270 complaints

Other top complaints include customer service issues (1,121), flight delays (1,110) and fare levels (870). The number of grievances about fare levels, including the information carriers provide on fares during booking, represents an almost three-fold increase from the first half of 2014.

Based on the sheer number of complaints, these are the three most griped about airlines for the first half of the year:

  • American Airlines, which includes US Airways: 2,148 complaints
  • United Airlines: 1,271 complaints
  • Spirit Airlines: 937 complaints

If you base the rankings on complaints per 100,000 boardings, Spirit Airlines and Frontier Airlines have the highest complaint rates. Spirit had the lowest on-time arrival rate at just 49.9 percent and the second-highest rate of canceled flights at 4.9 percent.

Rick Seaney, chief executive officer of FareCompare.com, a travel-advice site and search engine for flight bookings, told MarketWatch that a portion of the 20 percent increase in complaints may be because of weather issues and airlines better enforcing their baggage policies.

What are your biggest complaints about flying? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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