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More flight delays, cancellations for US airlines in April

WASHINGTON (AP) — Canceled and delayed flights rose in April on the nation’s leading airlines, and so did consumer complaints, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The rate of canceled flights nearly doubled to 1.6 percent in April compared to the same month in 2016. Delta Air Lines accounted for nearly half the cancellations — it was crippled for days by a one-day storm in Atlanta.

About 78.5 percent of flights arrived within 14 minutes of schedule, down from the 84.5 percent on-time rate in April 2016, according to the latest figures available from the government.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best on-time rate, at 88.8 percent, while Virgin America was last at 64.6 percent.

Complaints rose 70 percent, although only a tiny fraction of the millions of travelers lodged a protest.

April was also the month in which a passenger was dragged from a full United Express flight, igniting a debate over poor customer service on U.S. airlines.

Consumers lodged 1,909 complaints with the Transportation Department, with 1,430 filed against U.S. airlines. Most consumers complain directly to the airline, but the carriers don’t have to report those figures.

More than one-third of complaints dealt with canceled or delayed flights or missed connections.

Discount carrier Spirit Airlines had the highest rate of complaints, followed by United, which took a public-relations beating after video surfaced of airport officers roughly hauling a 69-year-old man off a United Express plane to make room for crew members flying to their next assignment.

Southwest Airlines had the lowest complaint rate.

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The Transportation Department report can be found at http://bit.ly/2t3KDdx

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