If you’ve ever grumbled to yourself about the sorry state of air travel in America (and let’s be honest, we all have), you’ll be pleased to know that things are apparently looking up.
U.S. airline performance is on the rise, according to the latest data from the Department of Transportation, and the overall quality of the industry has improved in the last five years.
When making these assessments, the DOT uses a measuring system that rates airline performance on four separate criteria:
- The percentage of on-time arrivals and departures
- Number of ‘denied boarding’ incidents
- Number of lost and mishandled baggage incidents
- Number of customer complaints
The most recent audit shows an improvement in the average performance of all US airlines. The Department of Transportation gave the industry an overall score of -1.08 for the year of 2011, which is up from -1.20 in 2010.
The DOT has released data on airline performance every year since the rating system was introduced in the early 1990s. To date, 2007 was the single worst year for airline performance in the United States. But in the half decade since, performance indicators have risen every year.
The improvements have not been uniform across the industry, however. Among the 15 major airlines surveyed by the DOT last year, it was smaller and budget carriers that showed the most impressive statistics, while some of the larger operations have lagged behind
For the second year in a row, AirTran was ranked as the number one airline in the United States for performance and customer satisfaction. In contrast, the newly-merged Continental and United were among the worst performers, coming in at 11th and 12th place respectively.