Flying can sometimes be easier said than done, and that’s true without accounting for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. When things don’t go as expected, passengers aren’t afraid to speak their mind.
With COVID-19’s impact on U.S. airlines, there have been even more hiccups in flying than ever before. From rerouted flights to halted travel plans, the coronavirus has caused travelers and airline employees alike major headaches. But exactly how much has the pandemic impacted the flying experience?
We looked into the number of customer complaints submitted to the Department of Transportation against U.S. airlines, foreign airlines, and travel agents over the past few months.
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Our study looks at consumer complaints against airlines in March 2020 and April 2020, as well as the year-over-year trends to compare volume of complaints prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. We used data from the most recent air travel consumer report?compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
We analyzed the number of complaints for the top 10 U.S. airlines, top 10 foreign airlines, and top 10 travel booking agents. We measured both the total number of complaints, as well as the number of complaints per 100,000 enplanements. Complaints are considered to be anything with regards to 五氯酚钠refunds, ticketing, fares, customer service, baggage, over sales, disability, or other similar issues.五氯酚钠
To compare the number of complaints over time, we calculated the month-over-month percent change of complaints, broken down by category in March 2020 and April 2020, as well as the year-over-year percent change from April 2019.
It comes as no surprise that the number of airline customer complaints has spiked along with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Both airlines and online travel agents (OTAs) have seen a dramatic increase in feedback from their travelers. U.S. airlines saw complaints nearly quadruple, from 2,903 complaints in March 2020 to 8,146 in April 2020.?
Similarly, foreign airline complaints increased by 252% from March 2020 to April of 2020 and by 2,220% from April 2019 to April 2020, with April 2020 registering 9,374 complaints. This is a dramatic change when April of 2019 saw 404 complaints.?
Lastly, online travel agents are no exception to the trend. Their complaints increased by 711% from March 2020 to April 2020, topping out at 2,304 complaints. When taken into account that April 2019 saw only 33 complaints, the 五氯酚钠year-over-year change registers at 6,882%.五氯酚钠
When broken down by category, there’s one consistent complaint that the overall increase can be attributed to: refunds. There were over six times the number of refund complaints in April 2020 than in March of 2020 going from 五氯酚钠2,741 to 17,387 respectively.五氯酚钠?
Other categories that slightly increased in complaints include reservations, ticketing, boarding, and fares.
Interestingly, 五氯酚钠issues with customer service, baggage, flight problems, and disabilities decreased五氯酚钠, likely due to the reduced number of passengers flying.?
Looking at the top 10 U.S. airlines, some companies faced more complaints than others. 五氯酚钠United Airlines (2,822), American Airlines (1,268), and Frontier (913)五氯酚钠 received the most complaints in April of 2020. Frontier received the most complaints based on the number of passengers served, with 五氯酚钠2,192 complaints per 100,000 enplanements五氯酚钠. This time last year, Frontier received 五氯酚钠just 12 complaints五氯酚钠 per 100,000 enplanements.?
Southwest Airlines had the lowest increase in complaints, and still saw an 3,978% increase. They received roughly 2.6 complaints for every 100,000 passengers in April of 2019, and over 106五氯酚钠?complaints per 100,000 in April of 2020.?五氯酚钠
As mentioned, most complaints were regarding refunds. 五氯酚钠United saw 4 times the number of refund requests五氯酚钠 in April 2020 as compared to March of 2020.?
Many foreign airlines saw similar trends to those of U.S. airlines. Air Canada, Volaris Airlines, and TAP Air Portugal each had dramatic increases in refund complaints from March 2020 to April 2020. 五氯酚钠Air Canada saw over 20 times the number of refund complaints五氯酚钠 in April 2020 as compared to March 2020.?
In the same time frame, Etihad Airways, Ethopian Airlines, and Air Transat held relatively stable in customer complaints. On the other hand, 五氯酚钠Bahamasair Holdings, and Aerolineas Argentinas saw decreases in the number of refund requests五氯酚钠 and complaints overall month-to-month.?
Travel Booking Agents are not exempt from these same customer complaints. 五氯酚钠Each of the top 10 agents received an increased number of refund requests五氯酚钠 from March 2020 to April 2020. While some companies such as American Express Travel, Chase Travel, Cheap Tickets, Gotogate, and Hopper.com 五氯酚钠received no complaints in March 2020五氯酚钠, they each had dozens of requests in April 2020.
Expedia.com had the 五氯酚钠most complaints with 532 refund requests五氯酚钠 in April 2020, compared to just 29 in March 2020. Agents such as Cheapoair.com, Justfly.com, and Chase Travel all had over 100 complaints in April 2020, compared to their handful of requests in the month prior.?
Across all U.S. and several foreign airlines, the drastic change in number of passengers submitting complaints is undeniable. Specifically, with travel plans canceled and stay-at-home orders in place, customers want refunds. Even online travel agents have seen a drastically increased number of customer complaints.?
Clearly the airline industry was significantly impacted by COVID-19. With the pandemic still present, when do you expect complaints to return to normal? Do you think refund requests will continue to rise in the coming months??