United Press International

Major airlines showed an improvement in the number of flight delays and baggage problems reported in January but increases in the number of consumer complaints, the Department of Transportation said Monday.

The department, in its monthly Air Travel Consumer Reports, said the 13 largest domestic carriers reported that 76.7% of their flights operated on time in January, comparted to the 76.1% on-time performance in December, 1988, and the 69.2% of January, 1988.

Delays caused by mechanical problems are not counted.

Mishandled baggage reports averaged 7.86 per 1,000 passengers in January, compared to 8.58 per 1,000 in December, 1988.


However, consumer complaints filed with the department against the industry increased in February to 1,138, compared to 1,086 in January. Still, the February, 1989, total was a 51% decline over a year ago when complaints reached 2,308.

During 1988, the department said, the airlines reported a decline in the number of passengers involuntarily denied boarding -- bumped -- because the airlines oversold seats on a flight. For the year, 2.97 passengers per 10,000 boarding were involuntarily bumped, compared to 3.99 passengers in 1987.

Airlines included in the consumer report are Eastern Airlines, American West, USAir, Northwest, Continental, American, Delta, Southwest, Pan American, Alaska, Piedmont, Trans World Airlines and United.