Tips for Making Holiday Travel More Enjoyable and Less Stressful

Tips for Making Holiday Travel More Enjoyable and Less Stressful
Tips for Making Holiday Travel More Enjoyable and Less Stressful

The Department of Transportation Struggles to Keep Up with Rising Customer Complaints Against U.S. Airlines

The volume of customer complaints against U.S. airlines has reached unprecedented levels this year, overwhelming the Department of Transportation (DOT) and hindering their ability to address the issues. According to an analysis conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Group (PIRG) using federal flight operations data, records related to flight delays and cancellations, lost luggage, and damaged wheelchairs have worsened compared to last year.

Teresa Murray of the PIRG stated, “It’s not your imagination, air travel has become much more stressful. We have new fees, more cancellations, delays, long TSA lines, and lost bags.”

Increasing Complaints

The U.S. PIRG analyzed airline operations data from the DOT for the month of June and found that the situation has not improved since last year. In fact, it has gotten worse. The DOT is currently exploring new ways to handle the influx of complaints.

In 2022, consumer complaints reached a staggering 78,000, a significant increase from approximately 50,000 in 2021 and five times more than the number of complaints filed in 2019. The record was set in 2020 with 102,550 complaints filed. Due to the overwhelming volume, the DOT has not released any complaint totals for 2023 beyond February data.

Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and JetBlue Airways had the worst records for on-time performance in June, while Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance. Spirit, American, and United had the worst records for mishandling customers’ baggage in the first half of 2023.

Tips for Mitigating Risks

With the holiday travel season approaching, travelers are advised to take precautions to minimize the risks of encountering issues during their airline trips. Here are some tips:

  1. Know your flier rights: Familiarize yourself with the contracts of carriage and understand your rights as a passenger.
  2. Plan to arrive a day early: If you have an important event or connection, consider arriving a day in advance to avoid potential delays or cancellations.
  3. Use a credit card to book: Credit cards offer greater protection when disputing charges, providing a refund while they work on your behalf.
  4. Take the first flight of the day: Flying early in the morning reduces the likelihood of cascading delays and cancellations affecting your travel plans.
  5. Try to fly non-stop: Taking a direct flight decreases the chances of encountering mishaps associated with connecting flights.
  6. Don’t check a bag, use a carry-on: Keeping your luggage with you eliminates the risk of it being lost or mishandled. Consider using tracking devices for checked bags.
  7. Download your airline’s app: Having the airline’s app on your phone allows for quick rebooking in case of delays or cancellations, avoiding long waits on customer service lines.

While these tips can help mitigate risks, it’s important to acknowledge that there are no guarantees when it comes to air travel. However, being proactive and informed can significantly improve the overall experience.

“There are a lot of things people planning to travel for the holidays can do,” said Teresa Murray of the U.S. Public Interest Group.

As the holiday season approaches, travelers should remain prepared for potential challenges while hoping for the best.

Author’s Quote:

“The increasing volume of customer complaints against U.S. airlines is a concerning trend that needs to be addressed. By being aware of their rights and taking necessary precautions, travelers can navigate the challenges of air travel more effectively.”

Author’s Conclusion:

The rising number of customer complaints against U.S. airlines highlights the need for improved services and better customer experiences. Travelers should educate themselves about their rights, plan ahead, and consider alternative options to minimize potential disruptions during their journeys.

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