Skip to main content

A new study reveals the airlines people complain about most

If you want to see how top U.S. airlines rank in the complaint department, the tweets and data tell the tale

Various passengers on a plane.
Kenny Eliason / Unsplash

Everyone has their favorite airline they stay loyal to — and the airline they swear they’ll never fly again, even if it was because of one flight experience. If you’ve ever wondered if anyone else has a deep distrust of the same airline or airport you do, let’s find out. Price4Limo analyzed both Twitter and data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to see which airlines and airports people complained about most, and what their dissatisfaction was about.

Which ones are topping Twitter

Keep in mind that Twitter is where people go to make a grumble rather than to give a compliment. But keywords (like “angry,” “horrible,” and “frustrated”) were flagged and totaled up.

The airports where passengers whined

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Georgia
  • Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) in Maryland
  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in New York

Hartsfield-Jackson and Baltimore/Washington both had an average of 27 per 1,000 tweets throwing shade at them, and LaGuardia had 22 per 1,000 heated tweets.

But remember, Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the busiest airports in the world (and BWI and LGA aren’t exactly slow-paced either), so that’s like making a stink about the most popular restaurant on Friday night having a long wait to be seated.

The airlines that could make people grouchy

  • Frontier Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • American Airlines

Frontier landed in the top spot for the most negative tweets, with 31 out of 1,000 aimed at the airline. Spirit wasn’t too far behind with 26 out of 1,000 angry tweets, and American Airlines rounded things out with 18 out of 1,000 not-so-nice tweets. (Though, to be honest, considering that Twitter is tailor-made for complaining, even those numbers seem pretty good.)

Person about to get in line at the airport.
Song_about_summer/Shutterstock / Shutterstock

The overall grievances

We need to keep in mind that some things cannot be avoided by the airline or at the airport. Weather happens, people get sick, mechanical breakdowns disrupt flights, and yet people will still complain about it.

The reasons for the negative

For the general complaint section, people brought up reasonable things to be mad at, like rude and unhelpful employees, larger-scale cancellations and other flight issues, and prices of flights.

The airlines that could bring out the Hulk in passengers

According to the USDOT Airline Consumer Reports, these were the airlines with the most consumer complaints:

  • Southwest Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines

Southwest had 23% of total complaints aimed at them, with American getting 19%, and United receiving 15%.

The most complained about in specific categories

For overall flight issues

  • Southwest Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines

Southwest bears the brunt of general criticism with 35% of the negatives flying their way. American had 16% of the bad reviews, and United saw 12% of the traffic directed at them.

The fares are not friendly with these airlines

  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines

American took 24% of the fire about their fares, with United and Frontier seeing 17% of unpopular reviews. Spirit — known for their cheap flights — was a bit of a surprise to see so high on the list.

Customer service problems

  • United Airlines 
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines

United was top for customer service gripes with 24%, American was close behind with 21%, and Delta totaled 13% of customer service issues. 

Customers will find fault with anything that inconveniences them, so if you haven’t personally had beef with these airlines or airports, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you recognize an airline or airport that has frustrated you on one or more occasions, feel free to feel vindicated.

Editors' Recommendations

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
A new study ranks the safest national parks to visit (Spoiler: Grand Canyon is pretty dangerous)
These are the safest national parks, according to a new study
a man standing on a stone pillar in Grand Canyon National Park

America's great nature, ranging from the most and least visited national parks, can take our breath away, stop us in our tracks, and remind us of the vast wildness of where we come from. While this unadulterated nature is certainly awe-inspiring, it can also be dangerous, especially if unprepared.
So, let's talk all about park safety. From seeing which parks are safest to explore to those that carry the most risk, you'll learn what you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable trip.

The safest parks for your next adventure
You may be wondering, what makes a park more secure than others? Firstly, the maintenance, signage, and accessibility features of a park have a big role to play in their safety. Staff is important as well, as having enough rangers to patrol and protect visitors can make a difference.
Statistics also allow us to get a deeper look at what parks are least likely to result in injury.
The scales measuring national park safety scores usually range from 0 to 10. A higher score means safer, while a lower score suggests higher risk.
With that said, here are the top three safest national parks based on comprehensive park data gathered and analyzed by KUHL:

Read more
New service wants to get you on a private plane with flights starting at $111 (yes, really)
For $111, you can take a private plane
private plane during sunset

Ever dream of being whisked away to a sunny island getaway or a bustling business meeting aboard a private plane – without it costing a fortune? This is the reality KinectAir is making possible, with prices starting at a jaw-dropping $111. Plus, no long check-in or TSA lines. 
How KinectAir can make your private plane dreams a reality
As some have coined the airline the “Uber of private aviation,” KinectAir takes the hassle out of private flying with its AI-powered platform. They specialize in quick trips under 500 miles, leveraging turbo-prop and piston planes – perfect for your regional needs, and they claim to slash costs by 75% compared to traditional private charters.

CEO Katie Buss says they want to change the way people think about short flights. 

Read more
New Mexico road trip itinerary: These 3 incredible routes feature highlights and hidden gems
Ready for the ultimate New Mexico road trip? Here's where to go, what to do, and where to eat
Ghost ranch New Mexico

You know you deserve some time off to get out there and live a little, and that means planning a getaway. Few places beckon the wanderer quite like a New Mexico road trip. From the desert to the mountains, the ever-changing landscape is mesmerizing to watch as you work your way across the state in the Southwest U.S.

Following one (or all!) of these itineraries for different regions of the state will also lead you to fantastic food. "We cannot forget about the mouthwatering New Mexican cuisine and the variety of microbreweries and wineries," Brianna Gallegos, a New Mexico Tourism Board representative, said. While you'll find delicious restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and more along the way, you could even stock your car with local snacks, like Bisco Bites, the state's official cookie. Think shortbread cookies laced with spices like cinnamon, sugar, and anise. Once you have your car stocked, get ready to hit the highway for an amazing trip from corner to corner.

Read more