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Airline Complaints Soar Following United’s Forced Removal Of Passenger

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The Department of Transportation has released its latest report on consumer air travel complaints, and it looks like a number of high profile incidents — including the United passenger who was dragged from his seat to make room for an airline employee — may have inspired peeved travelers to speak up.

According to the DOT’s latest Air Travel Consumer Report [PDF], travelers filed 1,909 complaints with the feds in April — a 70% increase over the 1,123 gripes filed during the same month last year.

Complaints about flight delays and cancelations saw a more than 200% year-over-year increase, jumping from 372 to 753. Ditto for overbooking complaints, which more than doubled — from 42 to 89 — over April 2016.

The uptick in overall complaints is likely related to the forcible removal of Dr. David Dao from that United flight on April 10 — his treatment could’ve encouraged others to step forward and make themselves heard when something goes wrong, instead of just chalking it up to yet another annoying travel experience.

“A lot of people have realized that things are bad and that they can complain about it,” Paul Hudson, founder of the passenger rights group Flyersrights.org, tells the Los Angeles Times.

However, United didn’t even receive the most complaints in April — like last month, that honor went to American Airlines, with 324 total. Delta Air Lines followed with 297, and United garnered 265, the federal report said.

And yet again, while American had the most complaints, discount carrier Spirit airlines had the highest rate of complaints, with 7.2 complaints for every 100,000 passengers. That’s more than twice the 3.04 complaints for every 100,000 passengers for United Airlines, or the 2.68 complaints American received for every 100,000 passengers.

Southwest had the lowest rate of complaints, with just 0.50 complaints for every 100,000 passengers

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