Grades Are In and U.S. Airlines Flunk.
It wasn’t that long ago that flying was actually fun. But these days, more and more Americans are saying they hate to fly and there are multiple reasons for that. But the top three complaints are crowded conditions on board, resentment over fees, and poor customer service.
The loss of legroom is a big issue for most travelers and the longer the flight, the bigger the issue becomes. Of course, we can always pay another $50-$75 for one of their “Extra Comfort” seats, but that’s a whole additional source of irritation because, in essence, they took away that extra inch or two of legroom we used to get for free and now they’re selling it back to us.
Truthfully, I can’t speak to the issue of baggage fees because I don’t check bags. Over the years, I’ve learned to pack light and I do not/will not travel with luggage the won’t fit in an overhead bin. That said, all these additional fees—for baggage, for extra legroom, a surcharge for the high cost of fuel (even when the cost of jet fuel is low) . . . all these things combine to make us passengers feel we’re being squeezed. And you know what? We are!
Every Customer Service Department gets good marks when that blessed word “uneventful” can be applied to any given flight. But when things go wrong—when your flight is cancelled or delayed and connections are missed—and you have to deal with Customer Service, that’s when an airline makes or loses friends. The government keeps track of these things and when it comes to poor customer service, the same names keep showing up year after year.
And here’s the “winner”—that is, the airline that finished at the bottom of the American Customer Satisfaction Index last year. It’s Spirit, which scored 54 out of a possible 100. Second from the bottom was Frontier with a score of 58. The grading was based on a number of factors, including everything from how promptly calls to Customer Service were answered (if at all) to customer satisfaction with compensation or remedies proposed to make up for whatever screw-up prompted the complaint in the first place.
But adding insult to injury, while airline passengers as a category are getting shabby treatment, the airlines themselves are making money hand over fist. Case in point: American Airlines. In 2015, American made a profit of $6.3 billion, which was 50-percent more than the previous year. Gee, with profits like that, maybe the airlines should hire a few more people to answer their phones and be a little more generous with the dollar amount of the vouchers the hand out. Ya think?