Airline performance soars! But that's not saying much

Domestic airlines have cleaned up their acts a little, a study of 17 carriers finds. Compared to 2007, in 2008 they showed improvements in late arrivals, overbooked passengers, and complaints. Hurray! Huzzah!

That means that if you fly nowadays, you will undoubtedly have an easier time of it than you did in 2007. Which means you're getting slightly more for your money.

But wait. As you might have guessed, there's a little sarcasm in there. I wouldn't pull a muscle trying to pat the airlines on the back. That's because those numbers were bound to go down: There are fewer flights flying. The recession has caused airlines to cancel routes and mothball jets. So of course passenger misery has declined. It had to (or so you'd hope), because the airlines aren't burdened with as much traffic.