2013 Airline Consumer Complaints Down From Previous Year

WASHINGTON – Airline consumer complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Aviation Consumer Protection Division during 2013 were down 14.1 percent from 2012, according to the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today. 

The Department received 13,168 complaints in 2013, down from the 15,338 complaints filed in 2012.  In December, the Department received 1,114 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 23.5 percent from the 902 complaints received in December 2012, and up 47.5 percent from the total of 755 filed in November 2013. 

For the month of December, airlines reported 10 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and four tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.  Most of the reported tarmac delays involved flights that arrived at or departed from Chicago O’Hare Airport on Dec. 8 that were delayed due to a snowstorm.  All of the reported delays are under investigation by the Department.

The larger U.S. airlines have been required to file complete reports on their long tarmac delays for domestic flights since October 2008.  Under a rule that took effect Aug. 23, 2011, all U.S. and foreign airlines operating at least one aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats must report lengthy tarmac delays at U.S. airports.

Also beginning Aug. 23, 2011, carriers operating international flights may not allow tarmac delays at U.S. airports to last longer than four hours without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane.  There is a separate three-hour limit on tarmac delays involving domestic flights, which went into effect in April 2010.  Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons.  Severe weather could cause or exacerbate such situations.

The consumer report also includes data on on-time performance, cancellations, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers.  In addition, the consumer report contains information on passengers denied confirmed space (oversales/bumping) as filed with BTS by the carriers, mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the carriers, and airline service complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.  The consumer report also includes reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

A news release on the Air Travel Consumer Report is available at http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/2013-airline-consumer-complaints-down-previous-year.  The full consumer report is available at www.dot.gov/individuals/air-consumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.  Detailed information on flight delays is available at www.bts.gov.