December 2022 air complaints third highest on record

The U.S. Department of Transportation received 16,876 airline service complaints in December 2022, the third highest monthly total on record, according to the agency. DOT had initially released its Air Travel Consumer Report with December data nearly a month ago, but it needed the extra time for the complaint section because of its high volume. The January 2023 complaint data also has been delayed for the same reason, according to DOT.

The number of December complaints was nearly four times the amount reported in December 2021 (4,253 complaints) and was up 155.1% from November 2022. More than half (51.7%) of December’s complaints were against Southwest Airlines, which experienced severe disruptions during and after the Christmas holiday season. Southwest has addressed the situation and is making changes to minimize the risk of such an event happening again.

Of the total December complaints received, 13,912 (82.4%) were against U.S. carriers, 2,542 (15.1%) were against foreign air carriers, and 415 (2.5%) were against travel companies, according to DOT.

Flight problems concerning cancellations, delays or other deviations from airlines’ schedules was the highest category of complaints at 52.5%, according to DOT. Refunds was the second highest category at 14.5%. Baggage complaints came in third at 13.8%. 

The only other months on record where DOT received a higher number of complaints were April 2020 (19,856) and May 2020 (21,914), which were during the beginning of the pandemic.

For full-year 2022, DOT received 77,656 complaints, up 55.3% year over year, but down 24.3% from the record high of 102,560 received in 2020. About 31.7% concerned flight problems, 25.7% were about refunds, and 15.5% concerned baggage.

Source: Business Travel News

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