Top Airlines Determined by Airline Quality Rating Report

There's good news and bad news for the 18 domestic U.S. airlines rated by the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) Report. In its 20th year of reporting major airline performance in the United States, the AQR is a statistical study conducted jointly by Dr. Dean Headley, professor at Wichita State University, and Dr. Brent Bowen, professor at Purdue University.

During 2009 the U.S. airline industry actually improved in quality in the four areas that the study tracks, say Hedley and Bowen in their AQR 2010 report. Those four areas are on-time arrival, mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boardings, and customer complaints.

For the good news, we'll look at the airlines that came out on top out of the 18 airline companies in the AQR study.
  1. Hawaiian Airlines
    Ranked at #1 this airline got its passengers to their destinations on time a record 92% in 2009. A customer complaint rate of 0.74 complaints per 100,000 passengers is against the 2009 industry average of 0.97. Its mishandled baggage rate of 1.90 per 1,000 passengers (second best of all airlines rated) is well below the industry rate of 3.88 bags per 1,000 passengers.

  2. AirTran
    This airline came in second in the overall rankings of the AQR report. It ranked best in getting your baggage back to you on time and in one piece, having a mishandled baggage rate of just 1.66 per 1,000 passengers, and it decreased its customer complaint rate from 1.10 in 2008 to .97 per 100,000 passengers in 2009.

  3. JetBlue
    At Number 3, JetBlue saw the best over-all improvement in all categories during 2009. On-time performance in 2009 was 77.5% in 2009 compared to 72.9% in 2008, and its mishandled baggage rate was 2.56 in 2009 compared to 3.47 in 2008. A customer complaint rate of 0.85 complaints per 100,000 passengers was lower in 2009 (1.02 in 2008), and Jet Blue’s denied boarding performance (0.00 per 10,000 passengers in 2009 and 0.01 in 2008) is the lowest of the airlines rated.

  4. Southwest Airlines
    Ranking #4, Southwest Airlines scored big in one of the more important categories, with the smallest number of consumer complaints, averaging a scant 0.28 per 100,000 passengers. Southwest Airlines is consistently the airline with the lowest customer complaint rate in the industry, stated Hedley and Bowen. In addition, its on-time arrival rate of 83.0% in 2009 is among the industry’s highest.
And now the bad news. Cutting to the chase, the worst ranked airline was Delta, who led in delayed arrivals at 78%, and was also first in consumer complaints, averaging 2.23 per 100,000 passengers.

The other airlines at the bottom of the list were United, Alaska Airlines, American and US Airways.
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