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Airlines fall, car rental companies rise in travelers' ratings

November 11, 2012|By Hugo Martin
  • Passengers prepare to board a United Airlines flight at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
Passengers prepare to board a United Airlines flight at Chicago O'Hare… (Bloomberg )

American travelers are increasingly dissatisfied with the nation’s airlines, but they seem pretty happy with the country’s car rental companies.

For the first nine months of this year, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics received 12,145 consumer complaints about airline services, up 33.5% compared to the first nine months of 2011.

Based on complaints filed to the bureau in September alone, the biggest sources of aggravation for fliers were flight delays, cancellations, problems with baggage, ticketing and reservations and, of course, customer service.

United Airlines had the most complaints in September, 211, followed by American Airlines with 162 complaints for the month.

Meanwhile, customer satisfaction with rental car companies has increased for the third consecutive year, according to a study released last week by J.D. Power & Associates. In fact, the satisfaction level—reaching 769 on a 1,000-point scale—is the highest in seven years.

The greatest improvement in the satisfaction rating came from the shuttle van or bus service that car rental companies use to transport customers and the daily rates and fees, according to the study.

Another big factor in raising customer satisfaction: a warm smile. The study found that car rental customers give an average rating of 795 when they are greeted at the counter with a smile, while customers who don’t get a smile give an average of rating of 647.


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Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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