2023 saw an unprecedented rise in customer complaints about airlines, shedding light on a growing trend of discontent among air travelers. As per the Air Travel Consumer Report published by the Transportation Department, the first five months of the year witnessed a 68% jump in grievances as compared to the corresponding period in 2022. The complaints totaled 38,135, marking a massive 584% surge compared to the same timespan in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
Overwhelming Influx of Complaints
The influx was so overwhelming that the Transportation Department grappled with tallying all the grievances for several months. This persistent and extensive wave of grievances indicates that consumer dissatisfaction is not aligning with pre-pandemic levels, suggesting a deeper, more systemic issue.
Unreliable Airlines and Rising Costs
A study pointed to American Airlines as the least reliable airline in the United States, with 2,183 yearly flight problems recorded. United Airlines followed closely, ranking as the second-least reliable airline. Other airlines like Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, and Frontier Airlines also featured on the list. The future looks bleak as travel agents predict a 20% spike in the cost of flights and holiday packages in 2024. Factors such as the delayed delivery of additional aircraft and soaring jet fuel costs due to escalating oil prices in the Middle East are contributing to the increasing costs of air travel.
Future of Air Travel
With the rapid growth in the demand for air transport, airports will need to evolve swiftly. Technology will play a pivotal role, with advancements in biometrics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, 3D printing, and automation impacting airport operating models. Future airports will prioritize convenience, cleanliness, and customer service to enhance passenger experience. Consumers are also advised to consider booking open jaw flights, where the destination and/or origin of the flight vary in both directions, as a potential method to save costs and add interest to their journeys.