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AQR Notes Considerable Performance Drop in Industry, Crowns Allegiant 2019 Winner

An Allegiant Airlines A320 prepares for its next flight at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravadis)

For the 30th year, the Airline Quality Report (AQR) has been released and a new airline is taking the top spot for its first time. Allegiant Airlines has taken the title off of 2018’s most successful carriers Delta and jetBlue. 2019 was Allegiant’s first year taking measurements under the Airline Quality Report, which has been published annually since 1991.

The AQR looks at airline based on four categories: on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boarding, mishandled bags and customer complaints. The report overhauled one statistic this year in its measurement of mishandled bags, which went from mishandled bags per passenger to mishandled bags per checked bag and resulted in an industry change from 2.43 bags in 2018 per 1,000 passengers per month to 5.57 per 1,000 bags per month last year.

Due to this shift in criteria and a poorer performance overall, the average industry AQR score fell from -0.66 in 2018 to -1.46 in 2019. Allegiant had the lowest score of the ten studied airlines with a score of -0.68 while American had the worst with a -2.45 scoreline.

A large part of Allegiant’s success was thanks to the change of lost baggage statistics, which gave Allegiant a score of 1.75 per 1,000 bags handled, well below second place Frontier’s 4.20 per 1,000 bags handled per month. At the bottom of the list was American Airlines, who recorded an 8.60 per 1,000 bags handled per month statistic for the previous calendar year.
Other industry statistics saw very little variation from the Airline Quality Report’s 2018 numbers. Total complaints per 100,000 passengers increased from 1.04 to 1.06 and involuntary denied boardings per 10,000 passengers increased from 0.14 to 0.19. Alternatively, on-time arrivals would tick upward from 79.4 percent in 2018 to 79.6 percent the following year.

Due to the large change in baggage scores, airlines saw their AQR scores increase by as little as -0.35 as the increased mishandled baggage score plagued the industry. Frontier was the only airline able to weather the baggage issue, posting an identical -1.53 score between both years thanks to the ability to offset the baggage score with improvements in other statistical categories. American’s jump would be the worst, rising from -1.10 to -2.45 in the two years measured putting them well below 9th place United’s -1.78. Most of the remaining carriers posted between a -1.0 and -1.5 scoreline.

The Airline Quality Rating was formed in 1991 and is maintained by Dr. Brent D. Bowen of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Dr. Dean E. Headley of Wichita State University. The entire report and final scorelines for each airline can be found here.

Ian McMurtry


  • Ian McMurtry

    Although Ian McMurtry was never originally an avgeek, he did enjoy watching US Airways aircraft across western Pennsylvania in the early 2000s. He lived along the Pennsylvania Railroad and took a liking to trains but a change of scenery in the mid-2000s saw him shift more of an interest into aviation. He would eventually express this passion by taking flying lessons in mid-Missouri and joining AirlineGeeks in 2013. Now living in Wichita, Kansas, Ian is in college majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in business administration at Wichita State University.

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