The survey conducted by the Purdue University and Wichita State University found performance scores improved in 16 of 17 airlines that were rated both in 2008 and 2009. The only airline with a lower score in 2009 was Alaska Airlines, the university researchers said.
As airlines trimmed the number of scheduled flights, routes and fleet sizes to stay competitive in a slumping economy, the only category of four in which the industry slipped in 2009 was in denied boardings. The industry improved in number of complaints, on-time performance and mishandled baggage rates.
The top four airlines in the ratings did not change year-to-year with Hawaiian Airlines keeping the top spot, followed by AirTran, JetBlue and Northwest.
Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time performance rate at 92.1 percent. Southwest -- overall fifth on the list -- had the lowest rate of customer complaints, 0.21 per 100,000 passengers.
JetBlue had the best score for involuntary denied boardings, zero per 10,000 passengers, the survey said. AirTran mishandled 1.67 bags per 1,000 passengers, the lowest rate among the airlines surveyed.
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