Airline travel is back to what it was pre-pandemic. In fact, it’s predicted that travel this summer will break all-time records. With so many things out of our control, from weather to staffing issues to lost baggage, does choosing a particular airline really make a difference?
Consumer Reports surveyed over 17,000 of its members about nearly 33,000 flights asking about everything from ease of check-in to delays to cleanliness to price. Here are some of the highlights:
The airline with the top overall satisfaction score for economy travel was Hawaiian Airlines.
In the middle: Delta and Southwest, followed by United and then, American, which rated lower for seat comfort. Frontier Airlines was at the bottom of the ratings.
It’s no surprise that passengers who took business or first-class flights were more satisfied than those who flew coach, where traveler’s top gripe related to airline seats.
“Twenty-six percent of folks in coach reported either being uncomfortable, booked in the wrong seat, or not able to sit with family!” said Tian Wang, Consumer Reports’ senior survey research associate.
Hawaiian and Breeze Airways were both excellent for cabin cleanliness. Frontier Airlines was rated sub-par.
Twenty percent of travelers had gripes related to flight schedules, including delays, rescheduling and cancellations. Still, most people surveyed did not formally complain to the airline.
“Whatever your air travel issues, it’s important to log complaints with the airline while you are still at the airport. If you’re stranded, you may be owed meals or a hotel room, or even money if you’ve bumped from your flight,” said Wang.
You do have rights as a passenger. You can visit the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection website to learn what each airline offers in the event of a controllable delay or cancellation.