Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Airline ratings not flying so high

Airline ratings hit the ground hard in
2007, according to a report released Monday by the University of
Nebraska and Wichita State University.

The Airline Quality Ratings report
shows the domestic airline industry’s ratings have plummeted to the
lowest levels on the books in the 18-year study.

“Flying has become more of a hassle,
more complicated and with more rules,” said Brent Bowen,
distinguished professor of aviation at the University of Nebraska.
“We as a nation are being more accepting of this, but we should
expect a higher level of service.”


Twelve of 16 airlines rated declined in
performance over the year, with U.S. Airways showing the biggest dive
in ratings. Meanwhile, AirTran, Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines
received the highest rankings.

Bowen stressed the challenges young
travelers face in contrast to corporate travelers and first-class
ticket holders.

“The airlines treat different classes
of people differently based on ticket price, frequent flyer status
and other factors,” Bowen said. “Young people will not be treated
with the same privileges as a business traveler.”

According to Bowen, these privileges
are getting harder and harder to earn. With rising fuel prices and
Homeland Security restrictions, airlines are also raising the number
of air miles frequent flyers need to receive free tickets.

Northwest and Continental were the
highest-ranking airlines serving Madison’s Dane County Regional
Airport, while United, American and Delta ranked significantly lower.

According to Headley, this is in
keeping with the trend for consumers to prefer lower-fare carriers to

This year’s low ratings are rivaled
only by ratings in 2000, when the United States experienced similar
economic conditions.

Bowen said airlines have still not
fully recovered from reduced travel after the attacks on Sept. 11,
2001, and international travel continues to provide better service
than domestic airlines.

According to the study, both 2000 and
2007 marked the beginning of a nationwide recession. In both years,
demand for air travel was strong, and airlines were making money
after an unprofitable period.

“Getting better in the airline
quality scores probably won’t happen for the next year or two, or
foreseeable future,” Wichita State professor of aviation and
marketing Dean Headley said in a statement. “There’s no incentive.
The airlines are losing money. Fuel prices are high. They’re cutting
back on services.”

However, Bowen was confident that with
enough feedback from different subgroups, airlines would improve
their performance.

Bowen and Headley created the study in
1991 as a way for consumers to give feedback to airlines based on
mishandled baggage, on-time boardings, denied boardings and customer

Bowen encouraged UW students to add
their feedback by taking the consumer survey online at
He added airlines have improved their performance in response to
airline quality ratings in the past.

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