Complaints against airlines are down in first nine months of 2013

Many airline seats are getting smaller. More carriers are putting price tags on all of those onboard extras you used to get for free. And cabins are more crowded than ever.

Yet, complaints about airlines filed with the U.S. Transportation Department have dropped 14.1% to 10,439 in the first nine months of the year, from 12,153 in the same period in 2012.

The statistics from the Transportation Department also show that complaints filed in September alone dropped 6.8%, to 1,008 from 1,081 in September 2012.

Why? It is not because the nation's airlines have substantially improved their key services, according to the statistics released by the federal agency for September.

The on-time performance of the nation's airlines in September was 83.8%, the same rate as September 2012.

The percentage of canceled flights increased only slightly, from 0.8% of all flights in September, 2012, to 0.9% in September 2013, the agency found.

The rate of lost, damaged or mishandled bags this September was the same as in the same month last year, 2.70 reports for every 1,000 passengers.

The rate of passengers who were involuntarily bumped from an overbooked flight dropped from 0.98 per 10,000 passengers in September 2012 to 0.72 in September 2013.


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