It’s no secret the airline industry is going through a difficult time. Major airlines have made efforts to try to mitigate these issues, but plenty of people are still reporting major problems when flying.
Released in June, the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report found that flyers had quite a bit to complain about in terms of flight delays, cancellations, and other concerns.
To help you spend your travel money wisely, we’ve outlined the airlines that received the most complaints, as well as what customers were upset about most often. The data for the report was gathered in April.
Spirit Airlines was in first place for the most complaints, and it wasn’t even close. The budget airline received a whopping 637 complaints from customers, according to the DOT data.
More than half of those issues (394) were due to flight problems, which include cancellations, delays, or any deviation from the planned schedule.
The second-biggest complaint category for Spirit was refunds (122 complaints), followed by reservation/ticketing/boarding issues and baggage issues (30 complaints each). Learn how Spirit baggage fees work.
American Airlines logged a total of 491 complaints during the month of April, with flight problems being the top issue (141).
The second-largest complaint category for the airline was refunds (97), followed by fares — which indicates complaints related to incorrect or incomplete information about fares — at 65 complaints and baggage (62).
JetBlue Airways took third place when it comes to complaints with a total of 481 for the month.
The airline’s biggest complaint category was flight problems (281), followed by refunds (85), reservation/ticketing/boarding issues (34), and baggage (24).
Frontier was next in line with 383 total complaints for the month, with 184 of those related to flight issues. The budget airline’s second-largest complaint category was refunds (67), followed by reservation/ticketing/boarding issues (35), and baggage issues (32).
Notably, Frontier also had the highest number of complaints about overbooking of any airline on the list, with 26 for the month.
United Airlines rounded out the top five with 326 complaints total, although the airline’s problem areas were a bit more spread out than those of some of the other airlines.
The top complaint category was flight issues (92), followed by issues with refunds (69), fares (35), and reservation/ticketing/boarding and baggage (34 complaints each).
Southwest Airlines had 227 complaints total. More than half of those complaints (120) were related to flight problems.
The next largest complaint category for Southwest was refunds (36), followed by baggage (16), and fares and disability-related complaints (14 each). Disability-related complaints refer to civil rights issues for travelers with disabilities.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines came in seventh place for total complaints, with 217 overall. The airline’s top complaint category was flight problems (79), followed by refunds (29), baggage (27), and customer service (23).
Customer service complaints can refer to issues with staff members, problems with in-flight meals or service, or seating issues.
Allegiant Air was the last airline to receive more than 100 complaints for the month of April, with 110 in total.
Allegiant received an equal number of complaints for flight problems and issues with refunds at (33). The airline also received complaints for disability issues (13) and reservation/ticketing/boarding issues (12).
Alaska Airlines had 68 customer complaints. The airline’s most common complaint was flight problems (24), followed by refund issues (12).
The next largest complaint category for Alaska was reservation/ticketing/boarding (eight), followed by baggage and customer service (six each).
Rounding out the top 10, regional airline SkyWest, which is headquartered in Utah, had 37 complaints.
SkyWest’s most common complaint was flight problems (10), followed by baggage (eight), and refunds and customer service issues, (tied with four each).
Republic Airways, a regional airline based in Indiana, followed closely behind SkyWest with 36 complaints.
Republic’s most common issue was flight problems (13). That was followed by refund issues (eight) and reservation/ticketing/boarding and baggage issues (tied with five each).
Envoy Air, a regional airline based in Texas, had 29 complaints.
The airline’s largest complaint category was flight problems (eight), followed closely by refund and baggage issues (six complaints each). The airline also received three complaints for overbooking.
Hawaiian Airlines had 22 complaints during April. The airline — which connects the Hawaiian islands to the continental U.S., as well as to destinations in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand — received six complaints about refunds.
The airline also received complaints about flight problems and disability issues (four each), as well as fare issues (three).
Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Airlines took the 14th spot when it comes to complaints with 20.
The airline’s top complaint category was refunds (eight), followed by flight problems (four), fare issues (three), and customer service and reservation/ticketing/board (tied with two each).
PSA Airlines and Endeavor Air
PSA Airlines and Endeavor Air tied for the 15th spot on the list, with 18 complaints each for April. Flight problems was the biggest category for both airlines, with 10 complaints for PSA and nine for Endeavor.
Refunds was the next biggest category for PSA (three), while baggage and customer service tied for second place for Endeavor (three complaints each).
Overbooking and disability issues also made PSA’s list (with two complaints each), and Endeavor got two for overbooking as well.
Keep in mind that the larger airlines featured here — think United, American, and Delta — serve a lot more customers per day than the average regional airline, so the companies will naturally rack up more complaints.
Still, it’s helpful to know which airlines your fellow flyers have had issues with, especially if you’re considering whether it's really worth whipping out one of the best travel credit cards in your wallet and booking with a specific airline for your next vacation.
By paying close attention to who is earning the highest marks from consumers, you can avoid throwing away money when you make travel plans.
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