Airline performance improves in 2013, according to survey
A big drop in passenger complaints is helping U.S. airlines post their best quality ratings ever, according to academics who study the industry.
Consumer complaints to the government are down 15 percent even though more flights are late and more bags are being mishandled.
Virgin America topped the ratings released Monday by researchers from Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Three regional airlines ranked at the bottom.
The researchers grade airlines on on-time performance, mishandled bags, bumping passengers, and complaints to the government.
The report rated 15 carriers for performance in 2012 and 2013, and eight airlines improved, six declined and one is new to the rankings. Virgin America was the top rated airline, followed by JetBlue, Hawaiian, Delta and Alaska. Endeavor, formerly known as Pinnacle Airlines, was new to the rankings this year and it came in at number 6.
Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at the W. Frank Barton School of Business at WSU, said the strong performance by Delta shows that a large, merged airline is able to compete with the best-performing small airline.