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Hawaiian Airlines ranks second best for overall performance

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:14 p.m. HST, Apr 02, 2012

Star-advertiser / 2009A contract agreement between Hawaiian Airlines and unionized flight attendants has been reached.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time record and second-best overall performance last year among 15 airlines that carry at least 1 percent of domestic passenger volume, according to an annual report released today. Low-cost carrier AirTran had best performance.

The rankings are based on data airlines supply the Department of Transportation regarding lost bags, delayed flights, and bumpings from full planes, and consumer complaints made to the department.

Overall, the report shows flying is getting better even through passengers grappling with fare increases, canceled routes and a seemingly endless parade of new fees may not feel that way, said Dean Headley, a business professor at Wichita State University who has co-written the annual report for 22 years.

Airlines are slowly, steadily recovering from their meltdown five years ago, when, under the strain of near-record consumer travel demand, their performance tanked, he said. Industry performance for all four measurements was slightly better in 2011 compared with 2010.

"Airlines are finally catching up with what their promise is, which is getting you there on time 80 percent of the time with your bags," Headley said.

"They realize that people are paying a lot more money, and the system is more complex than it was, and they have to do a better job," he said. "To their credit, I think they are doing a better job."

With higher fuel costs, airfares are trending up, although increases vary significantly depending on whether the passenger is flying between major airports, or is heading to or from a small or medium-sized airport, Headley said. As airlines cut back service to smaller airports, the cost of air travel in small and medium cities is increasing, he said.

"It really depends on the market you are in," Headley said, noting that in 2010 he paid $275 to fly round-trip from Wichita, Kan., to Washington, where he released that year's report. This year, the same trip cost him $360.

In judging quality of performance, low-cost carriers that mainly fly between large hubs tend to fare the best, Headley said. The large airlines that have been around since before airline deregulation in the early 1980s tend to fall in the middle. Regional airlines, which often fly smaller planes and are more susceptible to weather delays, generally pull up the rear.

Airline performance last year was likely helped by a mild winter in much of the country despite an "October surprise" snowstorm that snarled the Northeast, he said.

The overall rankings in order were: AirTran, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, SkyWest Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Mesa Airlines, and American Eagle.

AirTran was acquired by the Southwest Airlines Co. last year.

Hawaiian did the best job of arriving on time with an average of 92.8 percent, while JetBlue had the worst on-time performance, 73.3 percent. A flight is considered on time if it arrives within 15 minutes of when it was originally due.

Nearly half the 15 airlines improved their on-time arrival performance in 2011, and seven had an on-time arrival percentage over 80 percent — Hawaiian, Southwest, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, and Mesa. The average on-time performance for the industry was 80 percent last year, just a tad better than 2010's average of 79.8 percent.

Mesa had the highest rate of passengers with tickets who were denied boarding, at 2.27 per 10,000 passengers. Such "bumpings" are usually due to overbooking. JetBlue had the lowest rate of bumped passengers, .01 per 10,000 passengers.

Ten airlines improved their denied boardings rate in 2011.

American Eagle, which is owned American's parent company, AMR Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas, recorded the largest improvement, and Atlantic Southeast Airlines had the largest decline. Jet Blue, with its near zero rate, and Hawaiian, with a rate of 0.11 per 10,000 passengers, were clearly the industry leaders in avoiding bumping incidents. Industry performance was better in 2011 with an average bumping rate of .78 per 10,000 passengers compared with 1.08 the year before.

AirTran had the best baggage handling rate, 1.63 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. American Eagle had the worst baggage handling rate, 7.32 mishandled bags per 1,000 passengers. That was more than double the industry rate of 3.35.

Seven airlines improved mishandled baggage rates in 2011: Alaska, American, Atlantic Southeast, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue and SkyWest. The mishandled baggage rate for the industry decreased from 3.49 per 1,000 passengers in 2010 to 3.35 last year.

Southwest once again had the lowest consumer complaint rate, 0.32 complaints per 100,000 passengers; United had the highest consumer complaint rate at 2.21.

Headley attributed United's high complaint rate to rough patches in the airline's merger with Continental. The airlines, which merged their reservation operations last month, now operate under the United name.

The overall rate of customer complaints was virtually unchanged, 1.19 in 2011 compared to 1.22 in 2010. Only five of the 15 airlines improved their customer complaint rates for 2011 — AirTran, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian and JetBlue.

The majority of complaints fell into four categories: flight problems such as unplanned schedule changes, delays and cancellations, 34.9 percent; baggage, 14.3 percent; customer service, 12.1 percent, and reservations, ticketing and boarding, 11.2 percent.

Purdue University aviation technology professor Brent Bowen co-wrote the report with Headley. Their research is sponsored by Purdue, in Indiana, and Wichita State.


Overall performance, plus previous year's ranking

1) AirTran (1)

2) Hawaiian (2)

3) JetBlue (3)

4) Frontier (9)

5) Alaska (4)

6) Delta (7)

7) Southwest (5) 

8) US Airways (6)

9) SkyWest (10)

10) American (11)

11) Continental (8)

12) United (12)

13) Atlantic Southeast (15)

14) Mesa (13)

15) American Eagle (16)


On-time performance

Industry average, 80 percent of flight on-time

1. Hawaii Airlines, 92.8 

2. Alaska Airlines, 88.2 

3. AirTran Airways, 84.4 

4. Mesa Airlines, 83.7 

5. Delta Air Lines, 82.3 

6. Southwest Airlines, 81.3 

7. United Airlines, 80.2

8. US Airways, 79.8

9. SkyWest Airlines, 79.3

10.  Frontier Airlines, 79.2

11.  American Airlines, 77.8

12.  Continental Airlines, 77.1

13.  American Eagle, 76.3

14.  Atlantic Southeast Airlines, 75.2

15.  JetBlue Airways, 73.3


Passengers bumped from flight

Industry average, 0.78 denied boarding per 10,000 passengers

1. JetBlue, 0.01

2. Hawaiian, 0.11

3. Delta, 0.31

4. AirTran, 0.57

5. Southwest, 0.65

6. SkyWest, 0.68

7. Alaska, 0.82

8. Atlantic Southeast, 0.91

9. American, 0.92

10.  US Airways, 0.94

11.  Frontier, 0.97

12.  United, 1.01

13.  Continental, 1.49

14.  American Eagle, 2.24

15.  Mesa, 2.27


Lost or mishandled bags

Industry average, 3.35 percent per 1,000 passengers

1. AirTran, 1.63

2. Frontier, 2.21

2)  JetBlue, 2.21

4)  Hawaiian, 2.63

5)  Delta, 2.66

6)  US Airways, 2.70

7)  Alaska, 2.87

8)  Continental, 3.35

9)  American, 3.55

10) Southwest, 3.65

11) United, 3.66

12) SkyWest, 4.13

13) Mesa, 4.87

14) Atlantic Southeast, 5.52

15) American Eagle, 7.32


Consumer complaints submitted to the Department of Transportation

Industry average, 1.19 complaints per 100,000 passengers

1. Southwest, 0.32

2. Alaska, 0.48

3. Mesa, 0.62

4. Hawaiian, 0.70

5. AirTran, 0.72

6. SkyWest, 0.73

7. Frontier, 0.76

8. Atlantic Southeast, 0.88

9. JetBlue, 1.08

10.  Delta, 1.23

11.  American Eagle, 1.45

12.  American, 1.46

13.  Continental, 1.81

14.  US Airways, 1.91

15.  United, 2.21

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localguy wrote:
Way to go Hawaiian Airlines. Show the Legacy Characters what a first class airline can do. Looking forward to my next trip with you.
on April 2,2012 | 06:16AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
"People paying a lot more money," is too true. Will GAS prices cripple Hawaii?
on April 2,2012 | 06:18AM
808comp wrote:
For what these airlines charge a passenger that should be their number one priority is to improve their services. If you ask me these ratings don't mean a thing. Who cares about ratings,just give the people what they pay for.
on April 2,2012 | 06:50AM
kainalu wrote:
While I generally like Hawaiian, their "customer service" is a process equal to pulling teeth. They owed me a refund - straight up - nothing confusing about it - I overpaid through the process of upgrading my seats. The agents at the counter COULD NOT process me a refund as they stood at their terminal computer. They told me to call "customer service". The agent on the otherside of the line COULD NOT process my refund. Hawaiian Air requires a passenger to request a refund in writing in a detailed letter to "consumer affairs". Even then, they balked at the refund, suggesting "as a matter of courtesy" they'll refund me. WHAT? How's about doing the right thing, Hawaiian? I don't care what this report says, your "customer service" SUCKS!!!
on April 2,2012 | 08:05AM
808kela wrote:
I couldn't agree with you more about their customer service! Their kiosk attendants not only are rude and impatient but cannot help you when you come accross a problem. Their flight attendants are equally guilty.
on April 2,2012 | 08:31AM
808comp wrote:
I agree. Seems like that is one of the biggist complaints that i hear is there customer service.I had an incedent when my brother went back to the mainland and he left his jacket at my house so i drove to the airport (10 miles ), and i explained to the agent that he was on a flt connecting to the mainland so if she could give the boarding agent the jacket, and see that he got it. She told me to wait, and in alittle while a supervisor came out and i had to go through the whole thing again. What a crock, all the agent had to do was take the jacket and have someone run it out to the aircraft.
on April 2,2012 | 09:36AM
Mikilai wrote:
I agree they have bad customer service (some bad employees not all), my 4 year old daughter had to use the potty and she had to go like "now". When we came out of the potty the flight attendant goes "WHEW" couldn't she wait. I said I'm sorry and she started spraying the airplane with that sweet smelly spray and was very rude.
on April 2,2012 | 09:18AM
LRC wrote:
Wasn't Hawaiian #1 for many many years??
on April 2,2012 | 08:08AM
CouchPotato wrote:
interisland travel too expensive
on April 2,2012 | 08:41AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
get off your couch
on April 2,2012 | 09:06AM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
On time performance needs to show Hawaiian Airlines, not Hawaii Airlines. Of the top ten airlines for overall performance eight of them are regional airlines. If Delta ever went ahead of Hawaiian, then we worry.
on April 2,2012 | 08:56AM
Mikilai wrote:
they should tell people the truth, they don't have any competition here and they charge the local people at least $100 each way for a 20minute ride, plus they charge the locals for bags. There is no such thing as Kama'aina rates with Hawaiian we pay what the tourist pay.
on April 2,2012 | 09:15AM
Mikilai wrote:
Bring back the Superferry, The cost was reasonable compared to airline rates and the car factor was even better.
on April 2,2012 | 09:16AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Sure, Hawaiian Airlines has the best on-time record. Unlike other airlines, it flies to and from airports that rarely are affected by severe weather.
on April 2,2012 | 09:27AM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Every year this same stupid report comes out and every year people fail to put it in perspective. Hawaiian has 36 planes, goes to 22 destinations on 101 flights a day (most of these are inter island). Southwest has 610 planes, goes to 108 destinations on 3400 flights a day. Of course a smaller operation will have an easier time meeting on time performance statistics, especially if there is no snow closing down the airport where you operate. Lost bags.......well both may lose them on occasion, but at least Southwest doesn't charge you a baggage fee.
on April 2,2012 | 10:13AM
808kela wrote:
Good point!
on April 2,2012 | 10:41AM
Mikilai wrote:
yes great point,...
on April 2,2012 | 12:27PM
visitor wrote:
I agree with many of the comments, Hawaiian has no "Aloha" for locals. Interisland travel is already so expensive, why charge $25 a bag for 20-30 minute flights to local folks? No breaks at all for kamaainas who sometimes need to travel interisland. Yes, there is GoMokulele, but in reality Hawaiian has a monopoly. And their arrogance shows it.
on April 2,2012 | 01:01PM
paradisetax wrote:
Lose the baggage fees, bring reservations back from the Philippines, retrain your cabin crews not to be so laid back, don't take kamaiina for granted.
on April 2,2012 | 02:57PM
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