Surprise? We hate to fly...and it shows!

A U.S. Department of Transportation report shows that more consumers are complaining about their air travel experiences. Although delays, cancellations, and lost bags decreased in November, complaints are up over 37% from last year.

The report shows:
  • Overall, 80% of airplanes arrive on-time. This is better than last year's 76.5% on-time rate.
  • Airlines canceled 1% of scheduled flights.
  • 4.89 fliers per 1,000 report mishandled (lost or destroyed) baggage, down from 6.32 per 1,000 last year.
The three airlines with the worst on-time arrival rates were United, American, and Atlantic Southeast. Those with the best on-time record were Hawaiian, Aloha, and Delta.

The airlines also submit data that explains the delays and cancellations, often citing weather problems or aviation system delays. I question how accurate those statistics are, based upon my experience as a traveler. How many times have you been on a flight that was delayed, supposedly due to weather, but you later found out the skies were sunny on both ends?

Overall, air travel stinks. With a few exceptions, airline personnel are indifferent at best, and regularly unpleasant and rude to passengers. I can say that the staff of Midwest Airlines is the friendliest and most helpful on a consistent basis. That airline has figured out how to make money while still offering wonderful service to passengers.

Unfortunately, air travel is not optional for many professionals, so we'll be forced to continue to grin and bear it with all the airlines who treat us like dirt. Too bad more of the airlines aren't interested in providing a more comfortable travel experience like Midwest Airlines.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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