Airline Complaints Are Soaring: Is This Why?
Life + Leisure

Airline Complaints Are Soaring: Is This Why?

Lucas Jackson

It’s been a tough few months for the airline industry, as videos of customers being mistreated have grabbed headlines and rocketed around social media.

Public awareness of some high profile cases may be causing more consumers to complain about their own treatment and experience. The numbers of consumer complaints against airlines skyrocketed nearly 70 percent to 1,909 complaints on both a month-to-month and year-to-year basis, according to the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report.

Related: The Very Worst US Airline of 2017 — and the Best

The incident that may have sparked the volley of complaints — United Airlines’ forcible removal of a Kentucky doctor on an overbooked plane — occurred on April 9.

The report found an uptick in every category of complaints, with the largest jump in cancellations, with the number of complaints growing from 137 to 347. The number of discrimination complaints, though extremely low, tripled from four to 12.

While United may have had the most high-profile problems that month, it ranked third in complaints. The data showed that American Airlines received the most complains (324), followed by Delta Air Lines (297) and United (265). Regional carrier Trans State Airlines had the fewest complaints, with just five.

All of this discontent isn’t stopping consumers from flying. Trade group Airlines for America expects summer air travel to hit a record high this year. The group expects its members to carry more than 234 million passengers from June to August, an increase of 4 percent over last summer. To accommodate the increased demand, airlines are adding about 123,000 seats per day to their schedules. 

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