|Customer Complaints Surge As Passengers Resist Airline Mergers And Ultra Low Cost Carriers|
Complaints at American Airlines most likely saw an uptick as a function of an extended merger with US Airways. That process introduced many entrenched consumers to new aircraft, staff and policies, creating confusion and unrest along the way. Merging two airlines into one sole reservation and flight system also took its toll; nearly a quarter of reported complaints were regarding flight problems.
Baggage issues — another side effect of the merger — also contributed to American’s high rate of complaints. 15% of all complaints filed against the airline were somehow related to baggage, compared to a national average of 13.4%. With American’s help, the overall number of complaints went up 17% from 2014 to 2015.
Outside of American, complaints were highest across Frontier and Spirit Airlines. Over the course of 2014 and 2015, Frontier has been in the process of converting its business model to that of an ultra low cost carrier. That structure, though good for selling inexpensive base airfares, tends to pile additional fees onto consumers during travel, yielding a higher percentage of customer complaints.
The good news, at least for passengers on American Airlines, is that its merger is finally complete and that operations are starting to smooth. As passenger agitation starts to simmer down, the airline — and likely the industry at large — can look forward to a lower volume of complaints.