Airline complaints almost tripled in May compared to the same month in 2019

Travelers at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., Friday, July 2, 2022.

Angus Mordan | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Lack of staff. Delays. Baggage lost. Massive lines. High rates. Air travelers in 2022 have reason to complain.

In many ways, travel is worse than last year, but here’s how this year’s problems compare to those before the pandemic:

  • The US Department of Transportation registered 2,413 complaints against US airlines in May, compared to just 814 in the same month of 2019, according to a report released Wednesday.
  • Complaints about flight cancellations, delays and missed connections have more than doubled since before the pandemic.
  • Compliments for these airlines fell to two received in May, from one in May 2019.

Last May, only 77.2% of flights to US airports arrived on time, down from 77.9% in May 2019.

These numbers, the latest available, do not include the chaotic summer rush that has forced airlines like United, Delta and others to cut schedules. The difficulties also prompted an FAA intervention on congestion in some of the nation’s busiest airspace. U.S. and United executives will face investors on Thursday when they discuss their operations in quarterly earnings calls.

Delta on Wednesday sent members of its frequent flyer program 10,000 miles due to recent disruptions if those customers’ flights were canceled or delayed by more than three hours for travel from May 1 through the first week of July.

“While we cannot recover time lost or anxiety caused, we automatically deposit 10,000 miles into your SkyMiles account as a commitment to do better for you in the future and restore the Delta difference you know that we are capable of,” the email said. , a copy of which was seen by CNBC.

The DOT also recorded an increase in the number of baggage complaints with more than 516 baggage-related issues reported in May 2022, up from 190 three years ago. However, the rate of misdirected bags – lost, damaged, delayed or stolen – is actually lower than the same month of 2019, with 0.56 per 100 bags shipped in May, compared to 0.63 per 100 bags in May three. years earlier.

Mishandling of wheelchairs and scooters over both time periods was also stable. While the total number of mishandlings increased by 159 incidents, the percentage of such occurrences was similar, at around 1.53% in May.

The rate and number of mishandled bags as well as wheelchairs and scooters, however, increased compared to last year.

Read the May 2022 report here and the May 2019 report here.

–CNBC Leslie Joseph contributed to this report.

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