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The Best and Worst U.S. Airlines in August

Complaints drop as on-time performance improves marginally

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U.S. airlines’ performance rose and consumer complaints fell in August, according to the Department of Transportation’s most recent Air Travel Consumer Report.

Still, “improved” performance is still not “great” performance for many carriers. The 15 airlines tracked by the Department of Transportation averaged an on-time arrival rate of 79.1% — up three percentage points from July’s grim on-time stats, but still down a hair from the 79.3% average in August 2011. That’s a big reason consumer complaints tumbled by 23% from 2,466 in July to 1,886 in August.

United Continental’s (NYSE:UAL) performance continued to struggle as it integrates the former Continental and has experienced monumental glitches with reservation systems. The airline did begin to bounce back from a dreadful showing in July, when more than one-third of its flights were delayed and consumer complaints soared by 50%.

Here’s the breakdown of August 2012’s best and worst airlines as measured by performance in three areas: on-time flights, mishandled baggage and complaints:

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