Passenger's Rights Group Issues "Report Card" To Airlines

American Airlines pissed off the wrong people when they stranded several flights at Austin International Airport in December. Now the Coalition for Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, which started as a blog full of irritated consumers from those flights, has grown to 15,000 members and is holding press conferences. Today they’ve issued the first “Airline Strandings Report Card,” in which they detail not only the failures and successes of various airlines, but also highlight the inaccuracies of the Department of Transportation’s statistics.

The report claims that standings such as the JetBlue Valentine’s Day fiasco are not reported to the DOT because the flights were “canceled.” They further claim that diversions such as the ones United passengers suffered when they were left to fend for themselves in Wyoming are also not reported to the DOT.

Though the CAPBOR had strong words for most of the major airlines, three in particular were the focus of their outrage:

American Airlines was the big winner (loser?) as the recipient of the “When You’re On The Ground They Treat You Like Dirt” Award for: “providing no food, having the most known strandings, most known crisis mismanagement, high “Time-on-the-Tarmac statistics and the most negative report card score.”

United Airlines was the proud winner of the “Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award,” after a crew reportedly left passengers sitting in Syndey, Australia on a plane.

And finally, “Take The Money And Run Awards,” to United Express for abandoning diverted passengers in Cheyenne, Wyoming and to both United Express and American Connection for similarly abandoning diverted passengers in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

The report itself is pretty interesting, and makes a good case for more accurate reporting of these types of strandings to the Department of Transportation.

In addition to the awards given out at the press conference, three airlines received failing report card grades. These airlines were, unsurprisingly, United Airlines, American Airlines and US Airways.

The highest rated airlines were AirTran and Southwest, who both scored a “B.”

In the interest of gathering more useful statistics, the group also announced the creation of a toll-free number stranded passengers can use to report their experiences. (1-877-flyers6 or 1-877-359-3776). As always, consumers can also send letters describing their airline experiences to us at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: US PIRG)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.