5 Most Complained About Airlines In November

Wow, you guys really hated airlines in November. Complaints against airlines jumped 37% in November as compared to last year. Here are the five airlines pulling in the most gripes:

5. Northwest Airlines (42 complaints)
4. Delta Air Lines (78 complaints)
3. United Airlines (88 complaints)
2. American Airlines (92 complaints)
1. US Airways (101 complaints)

Consumers can file airline service complaints with the Department of Transportation a number of ways but this web form makes it pretty easy.

Airline complaints surge 37 percent in latest report; US Airways is most complained about carrier [Elliot]
(Photo: balmes)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mantari says:

    Wow. Those complaint numbers are REALLY LOW, considering. I hope people start to take advantage of the web form.

  2. snoop-blog says:

    @mantari: agreed. for only 100 or so complants considering the thousands that flew, its highly likely that less than %5 had a problem.

    i wonder how many southwest recieved?

  3. jerros says:

    I can’t comment on the other airlines but I will say I’ve had a number of experiances with US Airways over the years and they definately deserve to be at the top of that list. Their always over booked, the flights are typically 20 min late for taking off, and their service is horrible if you have any problems.

    I’d rather walk to where ever it was I needed to go than fly US Airways.

  4. bdgbill says:

    This just proves that most passengers do not know how or to whom to complain about bad experiences.

    US Airways should be receiving hundreds of complaints a day. I will never fly this airline again. My most recent experience with them involved being stranded in Reagan National for 9 hours to catch a 40 minute flight. This happened because TWO of their airplanes broke down on the tarmac.

    My luggage has been lost / delayed by US Airways every single time I have connected through Philadelphia.

  5. deadlizard says:

    Any news on when the U.S. is going to make a bullet train?

  6. 92BuickLeSabre says:

    Hmmm…I emailed by complaint to NWA’s CS-head directly. Maybe I should do this too.

  7. benwellington says:

    This is useless unless it is normalized by number of passenger flights. Bigger airlines have more complaints because they have more customers.

  8. BlondeGrlz says:

    This morning I needed to book a flight to North Carolina, and my two cheapest choices were Northwest or US Air. I went with the less expensive but more indirect Northwest. See, airlines, these web forums cost you customers! Thanks Consumerist!

  9. Christo67 says:

    How many people experienced problems and didn’t complain? Most just vote with their feet I suspect.

    We don’t even fly NorthWorst anymore and it’s the most direct route from our home to our families back east.

    We flew frontier air this holiday and what an amazing difference in positive staff attitude and quality of plane.

  10. csdiego says:

    @benwellington: I would agree, this ranking seems to track pretty closely with flight volumes by airline, except that I’m pretty sure US Air is not the highest-volume carrier in the country. The number one ranking is consistent with US Air’s general reputation as a carrier that’s slightly shittier than the norm without actually being out-of-the-question scary the way airTran is.

  11. lemur says:

    @benwellington: I was going to point that out myself. A raw number of complaints is completely useless if the goal is to compare airlines.

  12. icntdrv says:

    The only reason Continental didn’t make the list is noone flys them anymore.

  13. Cad06 says:

    That’s weird because “Airline performance improves in November” was just on the AP.


  14. SWA49 says:

    Having many many years in the airline industry I can tell you that the biggest problem is the “bean counters” running the companies. Cutting costs is not always the answer. Better service, both in cabin and out, means more sales. Of course costs must be held in check, but not at the expense of customers. What kind of lame management would think it is OK to leave a plane load of people sitting on the tarmac for 5 hours?
    Common sense MUST return to the way we do business.

  15. calfrope says:

    Trust me………most of the bitching about US Airways is the East Coast contingent of the merger. I am a mega-miler with US Airways (the America West side) and I fly them at least twice a week. The West Coast people work their asses off while my trips to the East Coast show the shitty attitude of that group. As with any merger, some are happy and some are not!

  16. 8999 says:

    I am an Airline customer Service Manager and the best way to complain is to do it on their website. It HAS to be dealt with and becomes part of their service record. Not so if you use other methods. Hit em where it hurts! Don’t yell at the service agents, they are helpless as all their authority went bye bye with the downturn in the industry. Go to the source and use details and professionalism. Ask for airmiles or reimbursements until they learn how to run their business.

  17. Bansheecub says:

    The airlines have absolutely forgotten what “customer service” means. Delta has gone downhill the worst. It used to be my favorite. Consistently delayed flights and very rude employees have made it a hassel to fly. The Delta employees at the Atlanta-Hartsfield are the bottom of the barrel. Complaining about their jobs on the phone in front of customers and pointing people to their locations. No eye contact, no greeting. They are almost hostile.

  18. rsr501 says:

    when i flew delta with a stopover in their ‘home’ city of atlanta and got stranded due to weather all along the coast….my problem was not the weather but with the worst employees i’ve seen in over 45 years of flying….three employees at the re-scheduling desk were ‘yelling’ at and ‘threatening’ passengers with stranding them if they asked questions,a stone faced witch who would never look you in the eye sent passengers to a kiosk that did not work for anyone…then turned and walked away when asked what to do next (her job)….the employees behind the counter (when you finally got there) where loudly talking to each other on how stupid the customers were when the man next to me challenged the man at the counter on his attitude he was accused of being a racist and as the customer walked away to file a complaint the “gentleman” behind the counter left the desk ran down the hall after the customer screaming at him . i was shoulder to shoulder with the customer in question in the next line and heard no racial comments of any kind ( and i was listening !)the male employee came back and after whining to and with the two women employees… he said ‘i’ve had enough’ and the three of them left the counter 1/2 hour before the end of the shift ..i’m in my sixties with medical problems / it took me 12 hours to find an employee who would help get me out on the last plane (at 10 pm ) people in their eighties on line were given no help/ business travelers i met inthe airport and friends at home who travel a great deal tell me this is common for delta and atlanta is called “purgatory” among frequent travelers…to be avoided as a stopover at all costs

  19. HarrietTubmanJr says:

    If we think of the days prior to 911; most of the things were commonly complain about now did not exist. Sure, lost luggage (which was usually found), minor delays (not hours ) ect. Were all a part of normal flying. Some of this can be clearly correlated to post 911 hiring requirements. As a result of 911, to be hired as a employee your work history record has to be pretty much pristine. That, my friends, does not always translate into great customer service. It appears that the employees simply don’t care how they treat customers because they have come to understand how difficult the screenng process has become. There are so many regulations regarding hires, I’m surprised that anyone gets through. Do you all realize that after 911 several experienced employees could no longer work at the airport due to minor infractions on credit reports and/or traffic violations? The list goes on and on. Management has a huge rule is this mess as well. Some of the decision making that I’ve seen regarding passengers should be deemed criminal. There has been, however NO ACCOUNTABILITY. Management’s recourse has been, in some instances a ‘free airline ticket’ what an insult after you have been standed on a plan for 15 hours drenched in urine and baby vomit! Take these fancy “telalies” commercials off of the tv and go back to managment 101; and throw a few customer services courses in there with true accountability.

  20. mikenla says:

    I fly only once a year to Hawaii. For a long time I only flew Delta while my other half would only fly United. United employees usually are the rudest both on the ground and their flight crews. American is Ok. Hawaiian Airlines used to be great. However the last time I flew them the ground crews were always very helpful and friendly. The flight crew are rude. I had a seat enroute to HNL that had no padding in the lower part of the seat back and a piece of the seat sticking out. I tried to complain before departure and got no response. After take-off a flight attedent finally came back and when I told her my problem she stated there was nothing she could do about it. I inquired if there were any other seats and she replied yes but they were in first class and she would not move me up there. She also indicated she knew about the faulty seat and I just had to live with it. For five a half hours I was in pain and it continued for the first week I was in Waikiki. I complained to the airline after I arrived and again with a letter. They sent me a $50.00 voucher I never used. The last time I went I flew Continental. It was a very enjoyable. Both the ground crew and flight crew were very nice. It my airline of choice.

  21. flyalot says:

    You haven’t seen problems until you have tried SKYBUS.
    Total incompetence, unprofessionalism, and indifference.

  22. kcdrmd2 says:

    We have traveled extensively over the years mainly using US Airways and Delta (in fact, we always try to book one of these first) as well as Continental and only choose others if we have no choice. We have never had a “bad trip” using US Airways or Delta for that matter. Yes, we have experienced delays for various reasons, but we try to incorporate our travel plans with some room for any type of delays – not just the airlines. In fact, we now make a game of “can we catch the delays?” – we’ve gotten free flights, free upgrades, free hotels, free meals. Try to work with the system – they say to treat people the way you wish to be treated – this goes both ways people. Lighten up and things will feel better! Sometimes, Customer Service can only be as good as the customer – yes, I agree you can run into foul-attitude workers through no fault of your own – though its everywhere – not only airlines, but check out your department stores, gas stations, your bank, grocery stores. THis generation of workers think they deserve more – they have forgotten or were never taught – Customer Service. Take a name & badge number and report exact details of the incident directly to the specific airline or immediate manager (prefereably, in writing) and get a phone number and follow it up when you’ve reached your destination. Corrections in personnel, attitudes and such can only be made if treatedproperly. GOOD LUCK fellow travelers – may the winds always be at your backs.

  23. bananaquik says:

    This past December I was taking a cruise out of Port Everglades, FL. The cruise ship booked us with American Airlines out of Miami. The people at the tickets desk in Miami where rude, they had no designated spot for luggage screening so you left it with some random person and when we land in JFK they miss placed the luggage of about 50 people on our flight. My bag got there but my boyfriends did not. We had to drive an hour and a half back to JFK the next day cause they said they would deliver the bag to our house but it could be 2 to 4 days. I will never fly out of Miami again and I did not have a good experience with American Airlines. Jet Blue is the best airline I have ever flown, I recommend them completely!

  24. bratto14 says:

    I think a good number of the complaints would disappear if ALL the airlines would NOT overbook. Over the years I’ve seen more upset customers and more rude employees from that one problem than all others put together with ALL the airlines. I don’t believe for one minute that 20% of us book a flight, pay for that NON refundable flight and then not show up. Even if 20% did not show up it is still most often NON refundable so what exactly has the airline lost if you do not show up? Should be against the law to overbook and not have a seat for someone who has paid for it.

  25. lorriewy says:

    Not all airline employees are like that, but it might be nice to remember to tell someone they are doing a good job once in awhile too. My husband is a pilot, and the complaints are many (over things like weather that he has no control over)and compliments are few and far between.

  26. Sr.Quiroga says:

    Unless those of you submiting complaints have used and or traveled in EU, you have no idea just how bad the United States Air Lines are. I’ve spent most of the last 10 years traveling this Planet, even third world Airlines out shine US Airlines, only in America have I had lost luggage, no food, no lav, a 7 hour unexplained delay, (America Airlines), last minute refusale of a checked bag, (accepted by every other connecting Airline), again, American Airlines. Deregulation, who benifited??? Washington??? My personal pick for best all around transportation experiance, Airtran and Any Europian Carrier…In passing, as I’m an Airline pro. lets fire all the ATC pros, our late Pres. the Great Communicater, now safer, NO, it will get uglier, trust me..

  27. ljsecu says:

    I am a frequent flyer who lives in Miami and used to use many airlines to travel in the US and abroad. My wife used to work for Delta in the eighties and early nineties so I would go out of my way to fly on Delta. Now, there’s no way I would even consider flying Delta or USAir. Very bad experiences with airlines. The rudeness of Delta employees is unbelievable. USAir loses luggage like crazy and cancels flights left and right. What happened to the old Delta? Now I’m forced to Fly American since Delta is not an option anymore, and when traveling abroad I only use foreign carriers. Foreign carriers know what customer service means.

  28. rn1426 says:

    I spent 3 extra hours at Altanta changing planes. I was sent in a legcast, with a small dog and carryon luggage to 3 different gates that were miles apart. When I got to the proper gate I sat for another 2hrs waiting. I had asked numerous Delta employees for help as just walking was difficult. I was told I was not listed as a passinger requiring extra help and they could do nothing for me. After arriving at the gate we were told not to leave the area as boarding was starting. My dog and I neither on got a drop to drink or a meal. I was still sitting in the airport when we should have been landing at our home airport. Our family was told we were on time until 45 min past our landing time. After 3 planefuls of people were backed up at the gate and all complaining loudly did anyone seem to notice there was an issue. Some person of authority got there and after 15 min of yelling at someone on a phone we got to load the plane. I did complain to Delta and recieved a coupon, for money off the next flight with them. I have always flown delta or southwest with good results. I think I will avoid Delta until they get their issues addressed. I agree tha Atlanta should be considered “purgatory” It is really the last place on earth any sane person would want to be. I have always left there late but I have never had this much trouble before. I will go back to Denver next time and take my chances there even if it is longer to get home.

  29. EDCONLIN says:

    I have been traveling almost exclusively on NWA since
    1942 and I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the
    service and I travel extensively. I left my coat in
    a restaurant and the station manager ran back to get
    it so I could make my connection. This sort of extra
    effort happened many times in 55 years of using NWA.

    Many bad experiences are caused by travelers themselves. You know the reasons.

  30. peggy1957 says:

    I guess I’m screwed… The town I live in only has Delta and US Airways…

  31. BobK says:

    Regarding the question about SouthWest, I have flown with them at least 100 times over the past five years or so and I never have had a reason to complain-no lost baggage, no attitude from employees, no getting stuck on the runway and no very delayed or late flights. This is the truth from just a happy customer and his wife, not employees or management.

  32. reelkingkama says:

    I get a little tired of all the whiners on air travel. If you are not willing to put up with infrequent problems, do the next best thing— take a train, bus, car, horse, or walk your way to the destination. Leave the airline seats available to people who appreciate such a great way to move about the world.

  33. dsal says:

    the many times we’ve flown american we have had no complaints at all, so I really don’t know why there are so many (92) complaints about them unless there are extenuating circumstances in their cases.

  34. riveroaksbear says:

    Ya know..I’m so sick of hearing people whine and complain about airlines not living up to “there end of the bargain”..It goes to show that people still want something for nothing!..Everyone wants to go on priceline and other cheapo websites and pay $59 to fly to Tokyo and back and expect meals and pillows and blankets and magazines and amazing service for some trivial amount of money..It’s absurd!..HELLO..Gas costs money..Food costs money..Everything costs money..And until you are willing to pay for it..Then shut your selfish mouth..Sit in your stupid chaep seat..And enjoy the ride..Why in the world would anyone working for an airline,most of whom have taken MAJOR pay cuts,want to give you service with a smile and tolerate millions of attitudes and sob stories?!?..Get Real!..Get over yourself!..Every moment a flght is delayed it costs airlines thousands of dollars..It is in the airlines best interest to keep things moving..However..Your airlines have no control over weather or air traffic control delays..Maybe you should take a moment and think about the big picture!

  35. sidekikk says:

    I have lots of horror stories on the airlines — not the least of which was returning from Antigua to Jackson Hole when my father died. Every single flight was late and in Atlanta on Delta we sat on the runway for five hours while they had to close the restrooms and all drink service. Still we sat. Oddly, when we were finally released the pilots made up the time lost. I’d still fly on Delta.

    The airline I refuse to use is Continental. They have the all-time worst ground crew of any airline I have ever used. My husband is in a wheelchair and they forced him to be the last to board. They treated us as though we should not be flying. That is the exact opposite of the many other airlines we have flown.

    My first choice is American, second Delta. I’ve flown vomit comets on United and Delta and they’re okay. But I’d rather stay home than fly Continental.

  36. misslisa says:

    Fly SWA! The best hands down. There’s few places in the US I can’t get to on Southwest. And, as much as I love Atlanta, the whole no-SWA service thing might make me hesitate to ever move there.