How were your experiences with airline travel during 2008 as a boomer consumer?
Were more of your flights late or canceled? Was your luggage lost more times? Was the food – what little there is these days – worse?
A report from a federal agency shows that 19 airlines reporting data on performance improved in most areas during 2008 when compared to 2007.
The on-time performance of the nation’s largest airlines improved in 2008 compared to the previous year, according to the "Air Travel Consumer Report" prepared by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 76 percent for January through December 2008, up from 2007’s 73.4 percent rate, according to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, a part of the department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration.
For all of last year, the carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 5.26 per 1,000 passengers, an improvement over 2007’s rate of 7.05.
In 2008, the 19 U.S. carriers had a bumping rate of 1.10 per 10,000 passengers, down from the 1.12 rate for 2007.
Complaints about airline service
For all of last year, the department received 10,643 air service complaints, 19.2 percent fewer than the 13,180 complaints filed in 2007.
Complaints about treatment of disabled passengers
For all of last year, the department received 474 disability-related complaints, down 2.9 percent from the total of 488 received in 2007.
Complaints about discrimination
For all of last year, the department received 115 discrimination complaints, up 16.2 percent from the total of 99 filed in 2007.
If you’ve had a problem with an airline, you can file a complaint in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590; by voice mail at 202-366-2220 or by TTY at 202-366-0511; or on the Web at airconsumer.dot.gov.
If you want on-time performance data for specific flights, you can call an airline’s reservation number or a travel agent. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.
The Air Travel Consumer Report is available on the department’s Web site at airconsumer.dot.gov.
Reductions in airline delays and other improvements in 2008 are due to flight cutbacks caused by fuel prices and the economic downturn and the decline in passenger traffic, said U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovel III in written testimony prepared for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Aviation.
The testimony indicated that it's expected airline performance will decline again when air travel picks up and airports and flights become more crowded.