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Here’s how American Airlines, Charlotte airport ranked in complaints and late flights

·3 min read
Christmas travel may lead to long lines at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. (Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez/

A new NC consumer protection group study revealed mixed results for Charlotte’s airport and its dominant air carrier American Airlines on passenger complaints and delayed flights throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The NC Public Interest Research Group on Thursday released a study of U.S. Department of Transportation data running from January 2016 to August 2021 on air travel complaints and on-time flights.

The report compares complaints and late flights for 10 U.S. airlines, including American Airline, as well as late flights for 16 of the busiest U.S. airports, including Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

The list of top airports did not include others in the Carolinas.

It did cover Newark Liberty International Airport, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Miami International Airport, Denver International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, San Francisco International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The report shows that Charlotte was in the top 5 for on-time flights in the most recent month of data released in the study, August 2021. Roughly 77% of flights at Charlotte in August departed on-time, according to the study.

And 74.4% of American Airlines flights arrived on time in August, putting it fourth of 10 airlines surveyed.

More findings about Charlotte Douglas

Here’s what else the study says about CLT:

At the Charlotte airport, the average rate of flights departing on time has actually increased from pre-pandemic levels, according to the data.

Since Spring 2020, CLT has had an average of 89.2% of flights depart on time, compared to 80.8% of flights departing on time between January 2016 and March 2020.

Most of those 16 airports, including CLT, saw their busiest drop in on-time flights in April 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic began to dramatically impact much of the U.S.

The Charlotte airport saw the eighth biggest drop in on-time flights from January 2020 to April 2020 of those 16 airports. From January to April of that year, CLT’s on-time flight rate dropped by 35.7%.

More findings about American, other airlines

And here’s what else the study says about American and other airlines:

April 2020 also saw the highest rate of complaints per 100,000 passengers for every airline reviewed, according to the study.

Frontier Airlines had by far the highest rate of complaints in April, with 2,129 per 100,000 passengers. United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines followed Frontier, with roughly 1,241 and 1,016, respectively.

Out of 10 airlines, including Southwest, Delta, Alaska, Spirit, Allegiant, JetBlue, Hawaiian, United and Frontier, American had the third lowest rate of complaints per 100,000 passengers in April, with just 192 complaints per 100,000.

Southwest and Delta had the first and second lowest rate of complaints for that month.

After the April spike, American Airlines has continued to see a low rate of reports compared to other U.S. airlines, keeping its spot at third lowest rate of complaints on average.

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