Study says airline service worsens
Annual quality survey shows more dissatisfied customers; low-cost carriers flying past competitors.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The airline industry appears to be slipping when it comes to performance, according to a survey published Monday.
Assessing the 17 largest domestic carriers in four different categories, the annual Airlines Quality Ratings study revealed that all but one U.S. airline fared worse in 2005 compared to 2004.
"At a time when airlines got worse, they all kind of got worse at the same rate," Dean Headley, the study's co-author and an associate professor at Wichita State University, said in a statement.
The study looked at four different criteria when evaluating each carrier -- on-time performance, denied boardings, mishandled baggage and consumer complaints.
Particularly problematic for the airlines was mishandled bags and customer complaints. Over the past year, the number of mishandled bags rose by 25 percent, while the number of complaints rose by 17 percent, according to the study.
"If we continue down this path, consumers will lose all confidence in the airlines' capability to perform," Brent Bowen, a study co-author , who is the director of the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said in a statement.
At the same time, some of the top airline performers were low-cost carriers, including JetBlue (down $0.14 to $10.58, Research), which topped the list. Following behind was AirTran (down $0.18 to $17.93, Research), Independence Air, Southwest (up $0.10 to $18.09, Research) and United, the study revealed.
The study showed that the only carrier to improve performance was Comair, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, although the airline finished second-to-last in the overall ranking.
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