2011 Airline Quality Ratings – AirTran at number one

airline qualityThe 2011 Airline Quality Ratings (AQR) were just released, and AirTran topped the list at number one. The Atlanta based air line got top marks in the study that accounts for on time arrivals, mishandled baggage, complaints, and other metrics. The study only includes airlines in the United States and provides interesting statistics about the overall quality of domestic air travel.

The main form of complaint involved flight problems, followed by baggage. While overall complaints went up about 30% from 2009 to 2010, overall quality rating also went up marginally. This could be due to the communication channel widening to include new forms of customer feedback. AirTran handled baggage the best with only 1.63 bags mishandled per 1000 passengers. American Eagle was at the other end of the spectrum with 7.15 bags mishandled per 1000 passengers. Of all the airlines listed, Hawaiian Airlines topped the list in on time arrival. Over 92% of their flights landed on time. The full report can be viewed here.

AQR Rankings – Domestic Airlines
16. American Eagle
15. Atlantic Southeast
14. Comair
13. Mesa Air
12. United
11. American Airlines
10. Skywest9. Frontier
8. Continental
7. Delta
6. U.S. Airways
5. Southwest
4. Alaska
3. Jet Blue
2. Hawaiian
1. AirTran

flickr image via Bob B. Brown

Galley Gossip: Flight attendants trained to spot human traffickers at the Super Bowl

flight attendants human traffickersWhat do hundreds of flight attendants, thousands of under-age prostitutes and the Super Bowl all have in common? Dallas. On Sunday they’re all traveling to Texas. American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta, United, and Qantas hope to help stop human traffickers from pimping out women and children by holding training sessions that will enable flight attendants volunteering their time on the ground to help spot signs of trafficking. According to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot in an article posted by Reuters, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States. During the previous two Super Bowls fifty girls were rescued. This year with authorities, child welfare advocates, and the airline industry all collaborating to fight under-age sex crimes, even more lives could be saved.

How did the airlines even come to be involved in human trafficking? It all started with Sandra Fiorini, an American Airlines flight attendant based in Chicago. Because of Fiorini flight attendants now know what to look for and who to call if they see something suspicious on board a flight. This after Fiorini tried to report a situation and no one responded. It involved an eighteen year-old boy on a six-hour flight carrying a newborn infant with its umbilical cord still attached. No wife. Just one bottle of milk and two diapers stuck inside his pocket. In 2007 Fiorini met Deborah Sigmund, founder of the organization Innocents at Risk, and soon they began working together with airline employees to become the first line of defense against human trafficking.




Flight attendants aren’t the only ones who can help. There are more frequent fliers now than ever before. Passengers should also be aware of what to look for while traveling.

Warning Signs

1. Someone who doesn’t have control over his/her own identification

2. Someone who has few to no possessions.

3. Someone who is not allowed to speak for themselves, or is made to speak through a translator

4. Someone who isn’t sure of where he or she lives or is or has no sense of time

5. Someone who avoids eye contact or appears fearful, anxious, tense, depressed, nervous, submissive.

6. Someone who rarely is allowed to come and go independently and may be accompanied by someone who controls their every movement

7. Someone who may be dressed inappropriately regardless of weather conditions.

Number to call

Human Trafficking Hot line 1-888-373-7888.

(Don’t wait until it’s too late. Put that number in your cell phone now!)

There are more slaves today than any other time in human history. A person can be sold several times a day for many years, opposed to drugs that can only be sold once. Because of this human trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, only second behind drug trafficking. It generates 32 billion annually for organized crime. Each year two million women and children become victims. 300,000 children within the United States are being trafficked each year. Most are forced into a life of prostitution and pornography in large urban areas such as Washington DC, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Florida. If it can happen on my flight, it can happen on yours. Open your eyes. Get involved. Write that number down!

Photo courtesy of The Consumerist

american delta flight attendant

Pocketknife found on plane causes major security drama at Dallas airport

The discovery of a pocket knife on an American Eagle plane at Dallas Fort Worth airport triggered an aircraft evacuation, passenger rescreening and a two hour delay.

The knife was found by a passenger between two seats, and while common sense tells us that someone probably found it in their pocket after simply forgetting to remove it, the TSA treats these incidents as a major breach of security.

Of course, the stupid knife should never have made it through the checkpoint in the first place, but items making it past the checkpoint is barely news any longer.

I fully understand asking the TSA to come pick up the knife, but to force everyone off the plane is just stupid – and reinforces the idea that they are not doing their job correctly. If the TSA had faith in what it does to protect us, they should have taken the knife, apologized to all the passengers, and let the plane depart on time.

Airlines post worst on-time performance of the year

June was the worst month of the year for airline on-time performance since December, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Together, U.S. airlines had an on-time arrival rate of 76.1 percent, down from 80.5 percent in May. But, they had fewer delayed flights than in June 2008.

Hawaiian Airlines put up the best on-time results in June, with Delta subsidiary Comair at the other end of the spectrum. Continental had the fewest delays among the legacy carriers (those that had a large footprint before airline deregulation in 1978), and American Airlines was at the bottom of the barrel for this category.

Unsurprisingly, weather, equipment problems and airport congestion were cited as the most frequent reasons for flight delays. To count as a delay, a flight must be more than 15 minutes late – canceled and diverted flights also count. Through most of the year, flight delays fell largely because airlines were cutting routes and servicing fewer passengers.

Mishandled baggage fell, as well, year-over-year, though it was up from May to June. Reports were down 20 percent from June 2008 to June 2009. AirTran had the fewest gripes from passenger. American Eagle (a unit of American Airlines) had the most.

American Eagle pilot tries to amuse his passengers and fails

Passengers on American Eagle flight 4891 from New York’s La Guardia airport en route to Cleveland were already running 2 hours late when the pilot asked the flight attendant to advise the passengers that the aircraft would be diverted to Toledo. The reason given was “an emergency has shutdown Cleveland Hopkins Airport”.

Once the plane landed, passengers whipped out their mobile phones, expecting the need to make plans to get to their final destination, only to discover that the pilot had played a prank on them. There was no “emergency” and the plane has actually landed exactly where it was supposed to be.

Needless to say that some of the passengers didn’t share his sense of humor. American Eagle has confirmed the incident, and claims the matter is now “a personnel issue”. Fingers crossed for the pilot that someone at HQ understands the need for a joke every now and then.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a couple of cockpit pranks before, but I can’t say I’ve ever run into a pilot who tricked his entire plane into thinking they were going to land somewhere else.

What are your thoughts on this? Would you laugh it off, or immediately write a letter demanding one million miles?

(Image source: Flickr/Geir. W)

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