New data shows that travelers filed four times as many complaints against airlines in the United States in April compared to the same period before the pandemic.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the agency received 5,079 complaints about airline service in April, up more than 320 percent over the 1,205 complaints received in April 2019.
Of the complaints received, USDOT officials said 32 percent were about refunds and 31 percent involved flight delays and other problems. In April, major carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 76 percent, down from 77.2 percent in March and below the 79.8 percent rate in April 2019.
In total, airlines in the U.S. operated 566,893 flights in April, down around 13 percent from the same month in 2019. Delta Air Lines had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals at 81.9 percent, while JetBlue Airways had the lowest on-time performance at 53.3 percent.
The USDOT reaffirmed that the agency “remains committed to ensuring airline passengers are protected fairly and is concerned about recent cancellations and flight disruptions.”
Advocacy group Airlines for America said it continues to work with the federal government this summer “to address operational challenges and achieve the highest levels of customer service while prioritizing the safety of all travelers.”
The USDOT also revealed plans to introduce new rules to codify requirements that airlines provide prompt refunds when they cancel or make significant changes, including when the ticket purchased is non-refundable.
So far this summer, airline passengers are facing cancellations, long lines and crowded airports as U.S. airlines are encountering record demand and staff shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
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