In this article, we will review the airline customer service changes of 2016-2017, describe the state of social media support for pissed airline customers, and shed the light on the most breakthrough scandals with airlines customer mistreatment. So, let’s go!

The past two years have been very busy for the airline industry. We saw both successful moves and annoying airline mistakes, which inevitably led to complaints. To understand more so that to not repeat mistakes and to make air travel a bit more comfortable, we gathered here information about the most significant events of these two years and European vs American airlines reviews. Analyze, compare, draw conclusions!

Two years ago, airlines only began to actively develop more effective ways of responding to customer complaints, namely using social networks for this. In general, the level of air carrier’s service is now determined not only by the quality of the services provided, but also by the speed of the company's response in difficult situations. Once users have got access to the social networks and can instantly inform companies of their omissions. Airlines have lost the ability to blame technical reasons in answering delays. That’s why air carriers compete with one another in social media. Each carrier tries to attract more public attention, solve customer complaints quicker, and thus win more trust. To see how these steps changed the services, start reading our story!

2016: The Beginning of Airlines Rises and Falls

Positive moments and major changes

In general, the year started well for airlines. In many respects, this was due to the fact that the market for air travel grew rapidly in the USA and throughout the world. Just imagine, in 2016 the biggest US air carriers enplaned approximately 801,254,637 passengers that is 1,520 passengers per minute. J.D. Power rating claimed that this year North American airlines reviews satisfaction rate climbed to a 10-year high on improved in-flight services. Also, low-cost gained increasing popularity among users of airlines.

As for the response time, generated airlines media statistics showed that the US leader was Alaska Airlines, and the EU Leader was Lufthansa. The previous year’s leader, JetBlue (6 minutes), was only the second in 2016. Other airlines decreased the response time slightly (Delta - from 17 minutes to 8 minutes, JetBlue - from 6 minutes to 5 minutes) or significantly (United - from 4 hours to 2 hours 10 minutes, Southwest Airlines - from nearly 7,5 hours to 10 minutes).

Response time in 2015, according to

airline waiting time

The Other Side: Troubles and Conflicts

The U.S. Department of Transportation statistics showed that the number of airline service complaints went down 17.7 percent from March 2015 and down 5.0 percent from February 2016. Still, there were complaints on cancellations, delays, mishandled baggage, animals incidents, and improper passenger treatment. A large share of complaints and discussions was via Twitter and other social networks. According to, American Airlines reviews topped the compliant charts, followed by United Airlines complaints, Delta Airlines complaints and Southwest to follow.

airline complaints

Then we can see Spirit airlines reviews, JetBlue, Alaska and others. Flight disruptions (cancellations and delays) were the most discussed and complained about.

Concerning crucial incidents, there were several of them. The most notable included:

  • JetBlue's turbulent ride. JetBlue was mixed up in the incidents too. 22 passengers and two crew members were taken to hospital after a flight experienced rough turbulence on August 12, 2016.
  • Emirates plane on fire. Passengers escaped after an Emirates plane burst into flames August 3, 2016, at Dubai International Airport. 13 passengers suffered minor injuries when the plane crashed after landing.
  • Southwest and Delta disruptions. Delta Airlines reviews and Southwest Airlines reviews were also gloomed by a huge crash of computer systems. Hundreds of flights were to be canceled or delayed. This created lots of buzz around the airport systems malfunction, which could have affected the lives of hundreds of passengers, and the necessity to pay more attention to security.

2017: Things Getting Serious

News and Breakthroughs

As expected, the growth of the influence of the industry continued its growth. Worldwide air travel industry has expanded by 7.2%. The Alaska Airlines customer care team won Best in Airline Customer Service in the SimpliFlying Awards 2017 for Excellence in Social Media, while WestJet won Best in Airline in Social Media. In addition, the experience of the past years taught the airlines to be more attentive to the security of their systems. We can say that security has become a trend this year, and should have accelerated the growth of service quality. However, the story went on a slightly different scenario; read further to get to know why.

“Madly” Spring and the Rest of 2017

In Spring of 2017, there were many incidents unpleasantly surprising the public and sharply changing the direction of dynamics. The total number of airline complaints not only stopped to decrease but in fact increased, in comparison with the previous two years. New data from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed a 70 percent spike in complaints by passengers compared to April 2016. For fliers (especially U.S. ones and those who submitted Lufthansa complaints), it was an angry spring.

The airlines themselves didn’t comment on the reasons that could have led to such a sharp decline. Among the most frequently discussed problems of 2017 (in social networks) are flight cancellations, delays, baggage issues (Lufthansa customer complaints), problems with ticketing and boarding (Spirit Airlines reviews), poor customer service (Southwest Airlines Reviews), and fare concerns. In addition, dissatisfied reviews about rude treatment, lack of responsibility, refuse to refund (Delta Airlines reviews) and agents not telling the truth also began to appear. 

The following airline complaints were widely covered both in social networks and in the media, and caused a serious public outcry:

  • Forcing the customer off the plane. United dragged a random passenger out of his seat when he hadn't volunteered to fly at another time. Due to the United’s own mistake, a ticket that was sold to this person should have been reserved for the airplane’s staff. When the customer refused to make room for United employees they violently removed him. The person’s face was bloodied out of this incident.
  • A scorpion stung a passenger. In April, a scorpion fell from an overhead bin and stung the passenger at a mid-flight. Fortunately, the stings were not life-threatening.
  • Airline employees killed a golden retriever. One of the most shocking United Airlines complaints was from a woman, who decided to transport her dog via airlines, but when she saw her pet after numerous delays the dog was nearly at death. Literally few hours later, the dog was gone. The cause of death was a stomach flip, which occurs when blood flow to the internal organs is cut off.
  • Girls were banned from a flight for wearing leggings. United Airlines complaints were so various in 2017: the flight attendant insisted on passengers’ changing the clothes to be allowed to board the plane. However, later United made an announce that these girls were pass travelers (United employees relatives) admitted to the flight for free but with expectations to wear no "form-fitting" spandex pants.
  • A Muslim woman was denied a soda because she could "use it as a weapon". Yes, this was the formulation why the woman was refused a sealed bottle of cola. At the same time, her neighbor was given a sealed can of beer.
  • The latest cases of pissing customers off: Lufthansa customer complaints. A fashion blogger had a problem as valuable things were stolen from her luggage. She described the case on her Instagram account. The Lufthansa complaints story attracted the society’s attention, and users asked Pissed Consumer to help her.

    lufthansa complaints

    In turn, we contacted sent Lufthansa both via email and in our Twitter account. The company has left only one message, describing the actions that have already been taken by the user. After that, we asked them for help many times but they continued to ignore.

Unfortunately, the spring did not end the series of incidents with passengers. Here are just some of the airline complaints that triggered the reaction of Pissed Consumer users:

  • A family was forced to leave the overbooked Delta flight - Pissed Consumer users were furious!
  • Computer outage caused collapse at Heathrow and Gatwick airports - users were joking they picked an English accent while in Heathrow:)
  • Delta flight accident, when water started falling from the ceiling onto passengers - people wonder how these guys can stay positive in such a situation.
  • United forced a woman to give up her son's paid seat - users say United is "shameless".
  • Family with three kids was forced off JetBlue flight - another sore incident.

Everyone can run into problems with airlines. We at Pissed Consumer always try to help users find a way out of difficult situations. First of all, read our article "How to Complain about an Airline". If you need additional help, please do not hesitate to share your problem with us. 

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1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.

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