People are boarding planes as often as they did before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings — and complaints about airline service are growing as well, says an annual survey of carrier quality. The year 2000 was the high watermark for flight delays, cancellations and seething passengers left stranded in terminals.
Customers' biggest gripe is likely to be lost baggage. Complaints increased 17 percent last year over 2004 and the rate of mishandled baggage jumped from 4.83 per 1,000 passengers to 6.06 in 2005.
Intense competition from low-fare airlines and high jet-fuel prices have forced many established carriers to cut back or charge passengers for amenities. Many airlines no longer serve meals on flights. Some charge for pillows. And there's a price now for overweight or extra bags. Read more.
With airline service complaints on the rise, FNC wants to hear about your experiences flying the "friendly skies."
E-mail us at email@example.com and share your experiences flying the friendly skies.
Here's what people in the news are saying:
"We've got the same problems we had five years ago. Airlines know their consumers. I'm not sure they know how far they can push them." — Dean Headley, a co-author of the study
"They're trying their best. They're taking advantage of technology to make the airport experience more pleasant. They're dealing with weather delays, air traffic control delays and new security measures. You've got airplanes misconnecting, passengers misconnecting and baggage misconnecting. That all translates into unhappy passengers." — David Castelveter, ATA spokesman
Here's what FOX Fans are saying!
"I take a minimum of 4 flights a months and log more than 50,000 miles a year and have for years. Service continues to drop. To be fair, I routinely fly a limited number of airlines, but here are my ratings, based upon the past year's experience: Southwest: ***** absolutely outstanding, Mesa Air Group: **** very good, Sky West: **** improved over the past couple of years, ATA: **** great fares, good service, United: *** often indifferent, Northwest: * routinely rude, avoid as often as I can." — Bill
"The 'friendly skies' are not 'friendly' at all. Everyone can understand weather delays, mechanical delays, and some security delays. What I cannot understand is why they refuse to tell us there will be a delay. In many cases, it would be easier and more timely to drive to a destination rather than fly. Airlines, afraid of losing passengers on already overbooked flights, refuse to tell us that there is a weather delay until the very last minute. During the time since 9/11, I have only been on one flight that left on time and arrived on time." — Jim (Elko, NV)
"Like many businesses, airlines have forgotten to put the customer first. With all of the new fees, they will only lose more passengers. Customer service is a 'forgotten art.'" — Shawn (Indianapolis, IN)
"Passengers who take their luggage as carry-ons were the biggest annoyance to me when I flew this past Thanksgiving. Everyone is so terrified of losing their luggage that they won’t check it, and I was stuck waiting for people to shove their cumbersome suitcases into the overhead compartment. Two hundred small suitcases being dragged down the concourse aren't the easiest things to maneuver around either. The security check was actually faster than the walk to my gate!" — May (Tennessee)
"I live in Charlotte and have to fly U.S. Airways for most trips, and they have been good except if you fly through Philadelphia to your destination. More times than not, my baggage has not made the connecting flight, so now if I fly through Philly I carry on essentials in case my bag is lost or delayed." — Tony (Charlotte, SC)
"I fly very often, and flights are late far too often (if it is weather-related I can understand, but it isn't). I have lost track of the number of times airlines have overbooked my flight. In this age of computers, that should never happen! Plus, the aircrafts are too small, with no leg room, no shoulder room, and nothing to eat, yet their prices continue to go higher and higher!" — Thomas (Salt Lake City, UT)
"Whatever happened to customer service? It seems like so many things nowadays are focusing more on quantity (money) rather than quality (people). The airlines need to remember that the customers are the ones who keep them in business — and although a lot of people have no choice but to choose air travel, the airlines should not abuse their customers just because they can." — Sara (Pasadena, CA)
"I hear these kinds of complaints all the time, but I have not experienced these problems myself. I fly Northwest Airlines just about every week, and I have not had any trouble with security, boarding or flight delays. There have been a few mechanical delays, but that is nothing unusual. I am very happy with all the security measures they have in place." — Jeff (Kalamazoo, MI)
"Next month I will be traveling from Tucson to Las Vegas to meet up with some friends. I have decided to drive for the following reasons: 1) my bags will make it there with me, 2) I will not be stuck in an airport because the carrier sold more seats than they have available, and 3) I will not be placed in a middle seat between two 400-pound gargantuan passengers." — Dave (Tucson, AZ)
"My wife and I fly fairly often — several times a year — always for pleasure, not business. We find that the choice of airline is most important. On domestic flights, we always use Southwest. We have found their service excellent, their crews friendly, and have had no problems." — Bill (Wilcox, AZ)
"My problem is not so much with the airlines, but rather the airports. We recently came home from a trip to Brazil. It took an hour and a half to get through customs at Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C. Then, after we got through customs, our luggage still had not made it to the terminal, it came 30 minutes later. In Brazil it took about 15 minutes to get through customs and our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal." — Tony (Tucson, AZ)
"Two weeks ago my wife was flying out of Rogers, AR to Chicago and from there on to Green Bay,WI on a Thursday afternoon. The flight was cancelled due to weather in Chicago and they re-booked her for a flight out of Tulsa at 5am the next day. She got to Tulsa, paid $148 for a hotel room for five hours, only to have her Tulsa flight cancelled because a stewardess called in sick. The next flight with an available seat was not until Sunday. She ended up renting a car for $160 one way to Fond Du Lac, WI, because the car rental wouldn't allow her to rent one-way to Green Bay. I had to drive an additional 75 miles to pick her up at the car rental drop-off (150 miles roundtrip). My wife will forever avoid flying that particular airline again. She travels at least 40 weeks a year." — John (Green Bay, WI)
"I fly every week, normally Monday morning from Newark to Chicago, returning Thursday evening. I always carry on my luggage, if possible, as a bag was lost back in 1989. After that experience, I won't trust any airline's baggage handling. I am convinced that that bag was stolen, as three bags were checked and the bag that was missing was the only one that was locked." — Bryan