August 4, 2005

Consumer complaints up for some big airlines

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three of the four big U.S. airlines
in serious financial trouble also are experiencing more
consumer complaints, particularly involving mishandled baggage,
the government said on Thursday.

US Airways and United Airlines, both bankrupt, and Delta
Air Lines, whose finances have deteriorated sharply and says it
may seek court protection, all reported higher complaint rates
for the first six months of this year compared to the same
period in 2004.

The sharpest increase was at US Airways, which plans to
merge with America West Airlines this fall.

The Transportation Department figures show the complaint
rate for the seventh-largest carrier jumped from .92 per
100,000 passengers last year to 2.07 from January through June.

Lost or mishandled baggage accounted for about half the
complaints at US Airways, followed by flight delays and
cancellations and customer service. US Airways ranked 18th of
20 airlines reporting.

Southwest Airlines, which carried nearly twice as many
passengers as US Airways, ranked first in the consumer report
with a complaint rate of .17, a slight improvement over last

United, the No. 2 airline, ranked 13th in the six-month
consumer survey while Delta was 15th. Complaints went up
compared to the same six-month period last year.

Northwest Airlines, which has also warned of a potential
bankruptcy filing, was ranked 11th. Its consumer complaint rate
went down.

No. 1 American Airlines also experienced an increase in
complaints and was ranked 14th.