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Fewer passengers, fewer problems

Luggage on a conveyor belt.

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: Airlines had fewer people on board last year, but did a better job for those that did fly. The 19th annual Airline Quality Rating is out this morning. Marketplace's Caitlan Carroll has more.


Caitlan Carroll: Bottom line: fewer passengers means fewer problems. Not as many people flew last year, so not as many bags were lost and more flights arrived on time.

Hawaiian Airlines was the most on time. American, which flies to a lot more places, was the least. Your bags were most likely to arrive with you if you flew AirTran. They were most likely to be lost if you flew American Eagle.

Wichita State University professor Dean Headley co-authored the report. He says air travel's improved a lot since 2007, one of the worst years ever:

Dean Headley: Quite frankly, I think the airlines finally got the idea that if we're going to charge you$ 25 to check your bag, you darn well better have it show up.

University of Portland Finance Professor Richard Gritta says consumers have also lowered their expectations.

Richard Gritta: We've been cattle cars in the sky for the last number of years, and any slight improvement may seem beneficial.

Gritta expects airlines to keep charging fees for just about everything. In other words, a little more economy and little less class.

I'm Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.

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