WASHINGTON -- More airline passengers bumped, more bags lost, and fewer on-time flights. For the third year in a row, those problems grew worse for the industry, according to annual study.
"They just don't get it yet," said Dean Headley, an associate professor at Wichita State University and co-author of the study, being released today.
One upside, researchers said, was that the number of complaints about airlines has stabilized since hitting a five-year low in 2005. The study does not include information from recent weather-related flight delays such as the ones that left JetBlue and United Airlines planes idling for hours on taxiways.
An industry spokesman does not expect improvement soon. "We're going to see more delays and those delays translate to cancellations, mishandled bags, and unhappy passengers," said David Castelveter, spokesman for the Air Transport Association.
He blamed the majority of delays on weather. More planes are going to be in the air in coming years, and the air traffic control system is not capable of handling the growth, he said. Congress, he said, needs to update the system.
The Airline Quality Rating report looked at 18 airlines. Among the conclusions:
Southwest had the lowest number of complaints in 2006, 0.18 per 100,000 passengers. United and US Airways were tied with the most complaints, 1.36.
Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance (93.8 percent), followed by Frontier Airlines (80.7 percent) and Southwest (80.2 percent). Atlantic Southeast Airlines had the worst performance (66 percent).
6.50 bags were lost, stolen, or damaged, for every 1,000 passengers, compared with 6.06 in 2005. Hawaiian had the best baggage-handling performance; Atlantic Southeast the worst.