The U.S. airline Embry-Riddle ranking is out, and it reveals which airlines have the best statistics, quality, and rankings among a variety of categories. As Consumerist puts it, Airline Quality Rating Survey found that “performance declined across all customer-focused categories just a year after the industry’s best scores in 25 years.”
This is not great news for frequent travelers. The reason is blamed on crowded planes, outsourcing of baggage handling, and higher ticket prices.
According to the report, the “only carryover” from a positive 2013 report is Virgin America. It tops the list for a third consecutive year.
Researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Wichita State University are responsible for coming up with the airline rankings list that’s comprised of “mandatory filings and tallies up all the statistics” which determine what makes flying a good or bad experience. This helps travelers figure out which airlines are better to use and which ones they should avoid if at all possible.
Virgin America ranked highest among the others when it came to the lowest rate of denied boardings and having an excellent track record for baggage handling.
The U.S. airline Embry-Riddle rankings included Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines in the top 5.
The worst airline on the list is Envoy/American Eagle — a regional carrier for American Airlines. It had the worst on-time record — coming in at 68.6 percent.
Only three of the 12 U.S. airlines evaluated saw improvement in the last year, but one “held steady” and the others declined on the scale.
What did the airlines fail to do in 2014 that made practically all of them fall below their 2013 statistics? According to the report, more passengers were denied boarding in 2014, up to 0.92 per 10,000 passengers from 0.89 the in 2013. Airlines on the Embry-Riddle list holding the worst rankings in this area are ExpressJet Airline and SkyWest Airlines. They tied for the worst airlines. Hawaiian and Delta Airlines improved the denying passengers category. Southwest and American registered at an average rate — just higher than the year before.
Then there’s lost, misplaced, or damaged luggage; the airlines ranked worse in 2014 than in 2013. Virgin America did the best job handling baggage while Envoy was the worst.
There was a 17 percent rise in complaints from airline passengers in 2014. Alaska Airlines had the lowest complaints while Frontier had the most.
Citing the Department of Transportation files on complaints, the main issues were flight problems at 37.8 percent, baggage issues at 14.3 percent, and reservations, ticketing, and boarding at 11.3 percent. Complaints about customer service was 10.6 percent
Two factors might play a role in why there’s a decline in the U.S. airlines rating lower on the Embry-Riddle survey. One is the large mergers still being settled and the other is severe winter storms.
Co-researcher Brent Bowen, dean of College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, released a statement on why the airlines performed worse in 2014.
“Airline mergers and consolidations are taking a systemic toll that is bad for consumers. Performance by the airlines is slipping while they claimed this would make them better.
“Delta is an excellent example of a merger that declined in performance and systematically has clawed its way back to a new high level of quality performance. This shows that if an airline commits to improving their AQR rating, they can do it.”
Researchers are urging travelers to give things a chance, which means waiting a few years. With airlines being in the middle of huge mergers, researchers predict things will improve again. A few of the mergers currently underway are Southwest and AirTran, and American and U.S. Airways.
An official report on the U.S. airline Embry-Riddle rankings can be read here.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]