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This year has been quite the shaky one for airline customer service. We’ve seen a number of events, many of which involved United Airlines. The most (in)famous is probably the incident involving Dr. Dao, although others have been bad as well (SEE: Thoughts on the man dragged off a flight and United’s PR nightmare).

We also had #leggingsgate and #strollergate. Public opinion of U.S. airlines definitely seems to be reaching a new low.

Passenger complaints soar this April

Passenger complaints are up a whopping 70% over April of last year. This is an enormous increase over a 1 year window.

Whether the airlines are simply 70% worse than last year, or if the high profile incidents have prompted more passengers to complain is up for debate. I have actually had 3 separate occasions over the past 18 months in which I complained to United for various issues (delays, cancellations, equipment issues). I received some sort of compensation every time. None of these incidents were in April, however.

If what we are seeing is a sudden spike in airline complaints, my guess is that the airlines haven’t gotten worse than they already are (except for maybe the introduction of basic economy). People are likely more willing to complain after all the bad press the airlines have gotten.

The stock price doesn’t appear to have suffered. Maybe it is inversely correlated with passenger complaints?

What do you think? Are U.S. airlines even worse this year than they have been? Or are we seeing complaints soar due to the rash of bad customer service incidents?

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