WASHINGTON - Airlines did a lot right last year.
They were better at arriving on time and not overbooking planes so people got bumped less often from flights. Their rate for losing or damaging bags was the lowest in 20 years.
But don’t tell that to passengers, who made it clear that not all was friendly in the skies in 2010.
Complaints to the Department of Transportation about airline performance went up a whopping 28 percent from the year before, according to an annual study of airline quality being released today.
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The consumer disenchantment is most likely due to changes in the way airlines are doing business, said Dean Headley, co-author of the report that’s based on department data.
The number of air travelers is increasing, but there are fewer flights and fewer seats available. So flights are more crowded and it’s tougher to rebook when a flight is canceled or a passenger bumped.
“They are trying to match supply and demand,” said Headley, an associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University’s W. Frank Barton School of Business.
There were 1.22 complaints per 100,000 passengers last year, compared with less than one per 100,000 in 2009.