Sky-High Rage: The Meanest Airlines in America

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John Amis / AP

You know the airline industry is in dire straits when even flight attendants are bailing on their flights. But which carriers are the surliest in the skies?

The Airline Quality Rating report graded 16 U.S.-based air carriers on the essential details that lead to angry passengers. First and foremost, the study authors looked at their watches – to judge the airlines’ on-time percentages in 2010. Down the line, they focused on denied boardings, lost luggage, and number of customer complaints. And the results could impact frequent fliers’ flight selections.

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Worst Major Airline: United

United took top honors as the meanest big player in the airline game, though that’s not exactly a trophy-worthy accolade. Customer complaints pushed United over the edge, with the second-highest number of frustrated fliers out of all airlines surveyed.

Worst Overall Airline: American Eagle

American Eagle, the regional arm of American, finds itself at the bottom of the report’s barrel for the second year in a row. According to the study, passenger complaints nearly doubled in 2010, and their sky-high lost luggage rating showed only slight improvement.

Most Likely to Be Late: Comair (Delta Express)

You might want to call ahead to your destination when flying Comair. Delta’s commuter airline that bills itself as Delta Connection was the slowest in the skies with just 73.1% of flights arriving on schedule. This number falls way short of the industry average of 80% on time. Comair appears to have had a rough winter season, citing February as its cruelest month, when only 62.2% of flights touched down on time.

Most Likely to Lose Your Luggage: American Eagle

You might want to keep a leash on your bags when checking them on American Eagle. With a mishandled baggage rate more than double the national average, those baggage-checking fees become even harder to swallow. American Eagle lost or damaged 7.15 suitcases per thousand in 2010, the study says. Can you say carry-on?

Most Complained About Airline: Delta

Delta took the most flack from fuming fliers in 2010, citing two complaints per 100,000 passengers, the report shows. The rage occurred mainly in travel-heavy June, when we all attempted to escape on vacation. It seems as though passengers are hardly understanding of faults, particularly when their summer holidays are concerned.

Truth be told, each flight is a crapshoot. Conditions change day-to-day, with each takeoff and landing, to make us love or hate them that much more. We just cross our fingers that we choose the least of all evils.

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