Delta Cancelling Smaller Percentage of Flights than American, Spirit

American Airlines cancelled 3.1% of its flights so far in 2015, over twice the percentage of Spirit Airlines.

Delta only cancelled 0.7% of its flights, and Alaska only 0.3%.

Dallas News dissected the details, based on this data from the Department of Transportation.

cancelled canceled cancellations

Spirit also lost way less bags per 10,000 passengers than American and US Airways.

But received a stunningly higher rate of complains per 10,000 passengers.

Spirit received 10.27 complains per 10,000 passengers, compared to US Airways’ 2.72 and American’s 4.39.  United also received only 2.36.

Say what you’d say about Spirit, but this strikes me as odd–to receive many more complaints when they are doing better than the other airlines I mentioned at not cancelling flights and at not losing bags.

Other than saying “Spirit sucks,” I have an alternative theory for this.

Spirit does not try to engender any engagement with its flyers.  In fact, its Twitter feed is completely automated.

The frequent flyer program is barely anything (and expires quickly).  So frequent travelers probably tend to fly on the other airlines.

I think even though many of the major airlines are more likely to cancel flights, their flyers are more likely to understand that flight cancellations just happen sometimes (and they won’t get anything by complaining about it).

Also, through creating loyalty with customers, airlines may make them less likely to complain in an legitimate situation (e.g., losing baggage), because they remember experiences they’ve had with the airlines that were positive.  So mistakes seem like anomalies.

People jumping around from airline to airline in pursuit of deals wouldn’t have this same benefit of the doubt with airlines.  In fact, back when I just grabbed the cheapest deal I could, I couldn’t tell you what airlines I had flown in the last year.  I couldn’t remember if I was mad at United or American for that ground stop.   …or was it America West?

What do you think?  Does loyalty and frequent flyer programs make people less likely to complain?  Or am I totally off base?


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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One comment

  1. When I see people complain about Spirit, it’s usually over issues that can happen with ANY airline. That’s why I don’t get the hate people have for Spirit.

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