Despite controversies, US airline performance improved in 2017

The report was issued by academics who analyze data compiled by the US Transportation Department. –Nam Y. Huh/AP/file 2017

After a turbulent year of controversies, animal deaths, and viral videos of passenger mistreatment, an in-depth study of airline quality found that major airlines performed better in 2017 than they had in nearly 30 years in the areas of on-time performance, baggage handling, involuntary denied boardings, and customer complaints.

The findings, announced Monday, came on the one-year anniversary of the involuntary removal of David Dao from a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Louisville. Cellphone footage of Dao being dragged from the flight set off months of passenger outrage and a seemingly endless series of videos showing additional fights on planes.

But data from the annual Airline Quality Rating study by the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University concluded that in 2017, the airline industry performed better than it has since the study began in 1991.


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