Hawaiian Soared, Other Airlines Struggled in 2006 - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian Soared, Other Airlines Struggled in 2006

Dean Headley Dean Headley
Terry Trippler Terry Trippler
Sara Smoot Sara Smoot

NEW YORK (NBC) - Hawaiian airlines is flying higher tonight. It has bragging rights after a new report ranked it as the best airline overall in the nation. It's an industry, however, that's still plagued with problems. Experts say it's only going to get worse.

Just when it seemed it couldn't get any worse proof today it has. A new analysis of government statistics shows one quarter of all flights arrived late, more bags were lost and more passengers got bumped in 2006 than the previous year.

"The airline industry has gotten progressively worse over the last three years" said industry expert Dean Headley.

The study ranks the airlines on overall quality. The top three: Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Blue, and AirTran. At the bottom, three commuter airlines: Comair, American Eagle and worst of all--Atlantic Southeast which along with Comair are part of the Delta Connection.  

United and US Airways had the highest rate of complaints which were down overall. Some experts say passengers are getting used to bad service.  

"There's been a race to the bottom, it's been like who can operate an airline on the fewest number of people and I don't know which airline won, but it looks like the consumer lost" said aviation expert Terry Trippler.

Consumers like Sara Smoot, who made it all the way to Morocco, minus her suitcase. 

"In the ten days that I did not have my luggage, I wore the same pair of pants everyday" said Smoot.

And she's not alone. Overall six and half bags per 100,000 passengers lost stolen or damaged, and Atlantic Southeast lost nearly three times the average.

The airline industry blames the problems on weather and, what it calls the government's outdated and inefficient air traffic control system. 

With crowded runways and more people flying and fewer airline employees, experts say its only going to get worse.

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