Airlines Getting More Things Right

Airline Complaints Rising

Now for the bad news: we have less love for our airlines, if the complaint figures are any guide. A shocker, I know. Actually, it is a bit surprising because in the first six months of this year vs. last year, complaints jumped almost 24 percent. Most of these unhappy experiences fell under the category of flight problems, with cancellations, delays and misconnections leading the way; baggage complaints were a distant second.

The biggest offender, in terms of the sheer volume of complaints was United Airlines, but some of this may be the result of ongoing computer glitches that began last spring when United merged its site with Continental's. United also led in complaints per number of flights. Least complaints per flights: no-frills Southwest, which may have more to do with free bags and lower expectations. Among the bigger airlines, Delta had the least complaints, ranking seven out of 16 reporting carriers.

By the way, the fewest number of complaints involved the handling of animals; there were only three of these.

Dead Pets

Unfortunately, all three of those complaints involved pets that died enroute to their destinations, but none of these deaths were ruled the airlines' fault. For example, one involved a dog who had chronic cardiac disease as revealed in the necropsy (yes, they generally do such procedures after an animal dies). Any death is unfortunate, but not all animals should fly.

If I had to sum it all up - all this latest airline data - I'd say that airlines in general are getting more efficient. It's also nice to know that fewer bags are getting lost, which makes those fees a little easier to bear. Combine this with the fact that we'll see a sharp drop in airfares at the end of the month, and autumn is looking like a terrific time for a getaway.

Let's just hope you don't run into any mysterious hand-written messages on your aircraft.

The opinions expressed by Rick Seaney are his alone and not those of ABC News.

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