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US Airways Takes 1st Place in Service Survey

April 20, 1999|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — In a complete turnaround, US Airways placed first in a survey released Monday of U.S. airline quality for 1998, one year after it finished dead last among major carriers.

However, 1998 was overall a year that saw a continued decline in airline quality, as measured by two university professors who looked at on-time performance, denied boardings, mishandled luggage and passenger complaints.

"Generally, airlines do a good job of getting you from point A to point B on time and with your luggage," Dean Headley, associate professor of marketing at Wichita State University in Kansas, said in a statement. "Evidently, the consumer is finding fault in the manner in which these services are being delivered."

Passenger dissatisfaction with airline service has fueled a spate of legislative proposals in Congress.

The report by Headley and Brent Bowen, director of the Aviation Institute at the University of Nebraska, uses 15 criteria to rank airline quality, using information from government reports and other readily available data deemed relevant to the public.

A "major carrier" is defined by the Transportation Department as an airline with annual operating revenue of $1 billion or more.

Propelling US Airways' rise on the list were relatively low claims of denied boardings--that is, when a ticketed passenger is denied a seat on an aircraft because it is full--and baggage mishandling.

The full ranking: US Airways, Continental Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines (which headed the 1997 list), America West Airlines, TWA, Alaska Airlines, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines. United had the worst baggage record of the majors, the report said.

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