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Airlines carried fewer passengers but did a better job in '08, study says

Associated Press / April 6, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Airlines carried fewer people last year, but did a better job, according to an annual university study.

High fuel costs and a poor economy led many airlines to cut schedules, raise ticket prices, and charge for luggage and pillows. Still, complaints about 17 airlines fell, from 1.42 per 100,000 passengers in 2007 to 1.15 in 2008. Southwest Airlines had the best rate, 0.25 complaints per 100,000 passengers; US Airways had the worst, 2.25.

Average on-time performance improved, yet nearly one-quarter of all flights were late. Three airlines had better than an 80 percent on-time rate: Hawaiian Airlines, 90 percent; Southwest, 80.5 percent; and US Airways, 80.1 percent. American Airlines had the worst record, 69.8 percent.

The mishandled bag rate fell from 7.01 per 1,000 passengers in 2007 to 5.19 in 2008. AirTran Airways did best, with 2.87 mishandled bags; American Eagle Airlines did worst, at 9.89.