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Airline report: The good, the bad, and the really bad

Airline statistics revealed yesterday by Department of Transportation (DOT) and reported by USA Today show that 2007 is looking to be one of the industry’s worst years ever. Among the report’s low-points: In August, three out of every ten flights were late—the second worst August for delays on record, after August 2000—and airline complaints more than doubled over August 2006. Some August statistics were slight improvements over July, but the tally is still dismal overall.

Anyone who’s flown recently is all too familiar with this report’s findings. The big question is, “What can you do about it?” I don’t think there is a simple answer, but it’s a start to be aware of which airlines are the worst offenders and which perform well.

  • Aloha (97%), Hawaiian (93.6%), and Southwest (77.7%) had the best on-time arrival records.
  • Atlantic Southeast (55%), United (66.2%), and Alaska (67.1%) had the worst on-time records.
  • Frontier (0.2%), Aloha (0.2%), and Southwest (0.5%) had the lowest rates of cancellations.
  • Atlantic Southeast (4%), Mesa (3.9%), and Pinnacle (3.8%) had the highest rates of cancellations.
  • Southwest, Hawaiian, and Aloha had the best records for consumer complaints.
  • US Airways, United, and Northwest had the worst records for consumer complaints.
  • Hawaiian, Aloha, and AirTran had the best records for baggage handling.
  • American Eagle, Atlantic Southeast, and Mesa had the worst records baggage handling.
  • There were six pet deaths on the airlines, and three were on Continental.

From these numbers, Aloha, Hawaiian, and Southwest come out looking good while some of the minor regional carriers and legacy lines (especially United) look like they have a lot of work to do.

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