Everyone Loves Southwest Airlines, Hates United And US Airways

The new Airline Quality Rating is out and Southwest airlines received the fewest complaints of any airline in 2006. United and US Airways both tied for the highest number of complaints.

Overall, the airline experience got worse in 2006, due to increased passenger load and decreased capacity to handle it, according to Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University (WSU) and co-author of the study: “We’re back to full passenger volume similar as we were before 9/11. We also have about 18-20 percent less seat capacity in the system now,” Headley said. “It’s just a very complex system with high volume, and it just doesn’t hold up well to the pressure.”

Most of the complaints were about flight problems or baggage handling. The overall mishandled baggage rate increased from 6.06 per 1,000 passengers in 2005 to 6.50 in 2006. The airlines with the overall best 3 scores were Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue and AirTran. —MEGHANN MARCO

Airline Quality Rating (Press Release, PDF)

(Photo: Drewski12112)


Edit Your Comment

  1. stukdog says:

    I haven’t had a problem with a flight for a while. All of my complaints have to do with the airports. I never feel as demeaned as I do when I’m in the line for security check. They talk down to you as if you are on the bottom end of the work force….which is ironic.

    I recently wrote a letter to the directors of all the airports that I fly regularly. I encouraged them to go thru the line as a normal passenger at their own airport and see how they feel when they’re done.

  2. mac-phisto says:

    heard this on the news this morning. they had some guy saying “it’s all b/c the flights are so cheap…if it was $400 from boston to dc instead of $99, things would be better.”

    yeah, let’s all throw money at the problem, b/c that works every time!

  3. crnk says:

    Statistics on mishandled bags can be very misleading. As quoted here “Most of the complaints were about flight problems or baggage handling…The airlines with the overall best 3 scores were Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue and AirTran.” Take a good look at Hawaiian’s route structure and frequencies. The only 9 mainland cities serviced are on/near the west coast, and the interisland flights include a lot of hourly flights. Thus, even when a baggage problem does happen, it can be put on the next flight and arrive only an hour or two late. Also, I’d take a bet that they haven’t been subject to the winter storms that every single other carrier has had to deal with.
    Compare apples to apples, and oranges to oranges. How do the top 5 carriers compare, not “how do regional carriers compare to ones with large national networks”

  4. typetive says:

    While I’ve had some dreadful experiences with most of the airlines I did fly Southwest, JetBlue, United and USAirways last year and had decent experiences with all of them.

    As stukdog mentions, most of my issues are with the experience of getting to the gate. Notably, from the weird security woman at SFO who said that I couldn’t carry three small things through the screening area (a small purse, a book and a little shopping bag – because they totalled THREE) while the man in front of me who weighed twice as much as I had only TWO items that probably also weighed as much as I. (I ended up bundling my items into my coat so that I had only ONE item.)

  5. ChiSoxFan says:

    I fly Southwest at least once a week and can’t remember the last time I didn’t have excellent and friendly service from any of their employees. They always go the extra mile for me and I would never fly anyone else if I can fly them. Unless something drastic happens I won’t even think of changing. I may sound like a Southwest fanboy and I’m proud to say that I am. Don’t talk to me about A-B-C seating. I like being able to choose not to sit by a bunch of teenagers and crying babies or by very large people. I check in online and can sit wherever I want to on the plane. They do a great job.

  6. CustomersRevenge says:

    I live in Canada and had a bad experience recently the very first time I flew US Airways. They basically couldn’t handle the recent storms and spring break. Surprisingly, the other airlines seemed to be doing much better. To add a little Canadian flavour: Always take Westjet if you can (they have flights to the US too). I imagine they are like your JetBlue or Southwest. Awesome, friendly, one time, no lies. Everything great.

    Also, US Airways planes are ratty looking. Westjet has leather for everyone!

  7. datruesurfer says:

    I think US Airways is so messed up because Philadelphia, one of their hubs is so messed up. My family and I flew to Europe from PHL on US Airways and when we landed at our final destination they lost our bags. Took them about 3 days to figure out that our bags were still in PHL and another day to get it on a flight to where we were. On the way back home, we went through customs and had to wait in a for about an hour while we watched every other flight get their bags in less than half the time.

  8. TechnoDestructo says:

    Last summer I flew from Korea to Seattle on United.

    Nothing says “welcome to America” like a stewardess with an ass wider than the aisle, brushing up against every aisle-seat passenger every time she walks by. For 10 hours.

    You know, the hot young chicks they have working on JAL, KAL, and Asiana are nice, but not at all neccesary. But there’s an opposite extreme which is just unacceptable. Widening the aisle so that your ass can fit through comfortably is not a reasonable accomodation. I’m sorry, if you cannot clear the seats on both sides of the aisle, you are just not fit for a job as a flight attendant.

  9. soyourvoicewillbheard says:

    here is a copy of the letter i have sent to united we need your help to rally more people whom have had bad exsperiences with this airline if you can help or want to be heard email me at soyourvoicewillbheard@yahoo.com
    To Whom It May Concern:
    I have had a very bad experience with your airline that you still have made no attempts to make amends for. All I have ask was the courtesy of a response and to speak to someone who is qualified to address this situation and do something about it Although all my attempts to speak with someone in charge has left me frustrated angry and upset. My baggage was lost for several days, I was treated badly, and lied to given the run around, and disrespected both as a customer and a person.If someone would simply address my concern and let me know when and how I will be compensated for my many inconveniences that would be the end of it. I was actually told by a united agent they really did’t give a shit. I have been trying to get a hold of someone in charge for months now. in my search for answers I have found that there are litterly thousands of people whom you simply choose to ignore, people who entrusted you with there luggage& itinerary’s. What you have done is wrong and you must make amends. I was angry at what you have done to me but to my surprise you have done much worse to others. Their is an overwhelming feeling of outrage within me for the terrible things you have done to these people. Unless this issue is immediately addressed I will make it my personal mission to hold your company accountable for its actions. I am in the process of contacting politicians allover the United States and am looking for a Way to unite all these disgruntled united customers. I have already found thousands of people via the Internet. All I have to say to you is you can break a twig rather quickly and easily but when you bring several twigs together it is a much harder task. Once all those you have done wrong are united we will be unstoppable a voice that will be heard by you and all those who chose to ignore our pleas for help. we will be I assure you a force to be recand with and you will regret the day you ignored our emails and refused to address our concerns your airline will become an example for all other airlines. Gone will be the day where customers are not important united will no longer be remembered as an airline. united will be remembered as a group of people who brought against an airline such a huge class action lawsuit that they could no longer survive.
    Your company is truly a giant and worth millions if not billions of dollars but I am not concerned. All I must do is find a way to unite all the people you have done wrong and we will defeat the giant the taller the giant the harder the fall. Be assured our voices will be heard .I will be calling for a boycott of united and demanding new laws be passed and in the meantime I will find every one you have ever done wrong find the best dam lawyer and file a class action lawsuit. There will come a day when we will be heard and I am making it my personal mission to see to it that this disregard for your customers stops. We are united against united airlines blatant disregard for customers. We will not be broken we will not be disregarded or forgotten we will be heard.
    We are united!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!