We’ve already seen plenty of evidence that airlines are still struggling right now. Staffing shortages and fuel price increases have led to more cancelations and delays, and the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is not happy about it. But which airlines are the most frequent offenders?
According to a recent report by the DOT, customer complaints against airlines have almost doubled between 2021 and 2022. The report also shows which airlines got the most complaints so far this year — find out which airlines you may want to AVOID if you’re flying soon.
The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (part of the DOT) released their Air Travel Consumer Report for May 2022 last month. This report contains data for many different aspects of airlines’ relationships with consumers, including how often luggage is mishandled, how many flights arrive on time, and which airlines are most likely to bump passengers involuntarily.
One of the most startling statistics in this month’s report is the number of complaints that US airlines received in May 2022, especially compared to May 2021. In May 2021, US airlines received 1,220 complaints total. This year, however, US airlines received 2,413 complaints in May — almost DOUBLE the 2021 number.
The DOT has been admonishing airlines recently for the uptick in cancelations, delays, and consumer complaints. In fact, the DOT is considering adding a new rule that would require airlines to give refunds for more cases of flight cancelations and delays. This rule would require airlines to refund customers if flights are delayed by at least 3 hours for domestic flights or at least 6 hours for international flights. Refunds would also be required for “significant” changes to flights, including if the route changes, a connection is added, or if an aircraft change causes a downgrade in amenities.
With so many complaints coming in this year, you may want to be more careful about which airline you choose to fly with.
Which Airlines Had the MOST Complaints?
Here’s the ranking of US airlines from MOST complaints in May 2022 to LEAST complaints in May 2022:
- American Airlines (575 complaints)
- United Airlines (400 complaints)
- Frontier Airlines (301 complaints)
- Delta Air Lines (281 complaints)
- Spirit Airlines (269 complaints)
- JetBlue Airways (244 complaints)
- Southwest Airlines (110 complaints)
- Allegiant Air (75 complaints)
- Alaska Airlines (74 complaints)
- Hawaiian Airlines (13 complaints)
Coming in at the top by far is American Airlines, followed by United, Frontier, and Delta. The airline with the least number of complaints in May 2022 was Hawaiian Airlines, followed by Alaska and Allegiant.
However, you may have noticed that some of these airlines have a LOT more customers than others. American Airlines is one of the most popular airlines in the country — with more flights and customers, it makes sense that it also gets more complaints. So let’s now take a look at the rankings for Complaints Per 100,000 Enplanements. An “enplanement” means a passenger that boarded a plane (1 enplanement = 1 passenger). This statistic accounts for the differences in customer numbers so that the data is not skewed by how many flights an airline has.
Here’s the ranking of US airlines from MOST complaints in May 2022 to LEAST complaints in May 2022 Per 100,000 Enplanements:
- Frontier Airlines (13.77 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Spirit Airlines (7.99 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- JetBlue Airways (6.98 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Allegiant Air (5.10 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- PSA Airlines (4.40 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- United Airlines (4.05 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- American Airlines (3.31 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Envoy Air (2.66 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Alaska Airlines (2.43 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Republic Airways (2.22 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Delt Air Lines (1.97 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Hawaiian Airlines (1.53 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Endeavor Air (1.29 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Horizon Airlines (1.12 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Southwest Airlines (0.79 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Skywest Airlines (0.68 complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
- Mesa Airlines (0.52complaints per 100,000 enplanements)
From this data, it looks like some of the worst airlines for complaints include Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue Airways. By contrast, some of the popular airlines that you may want to consider include Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, both of which had fewer than 2 complaints per 100,000 enplanements. American Airlines and United Airlines fall somewhere in the middle.
Keep in mind also that Southwest Airlines recently updated its flight credit policy — now, points from canceled or downgraded flights will never expire. If you have any points on your Southwest Airlines account, you can use them at any point in the future.
Another benefit to flying with Southwest Airlines is that you can bring on 2 suitcases free of charge (as long as they weigh 50 lbs. or less). With many other airlines charging baggage fees, this could save you some money on your upcoming trip.
However, some of the airlines that get the most complaints are also the cheapest options available. So you’ll have to decide what your priorities are for your next trip: reliability and customer service or a lower ticket cost?
If you’re planning to fly to Disney World soon, we’ve got a LOT of posts to help you have the best trip possible. Check out a few of them here:
- Air Travel Tips That’ll Change Your Life
- Our Best Tips for Flying Through the Orlando International Airport
- You’re Sleeping On These Packing Hacks
- The Best Disney Luggage for 2023
- Are Flight Costs Increasing or Decreasing? We’ve Got the Data.
- Which Airline Is the BEST in the WORLD?
Keep following DFB for more tips that could save you money and time on your next Disney World vacation.
Which airline is your favorite to fly to Disney World? Let us know in the comments.