About one-third of Americans have a positive opinion about the airline industry, slightly more than those who take a disapproving view, according to a new poll.
This marks the third consecutive year that airline carriers have landed a higher positive rating than a negative score in the Gallup poll. Year-over-year, the positive score was unchanged at 35%, although the negative rating rose from 29% to 32%.
Gallup asks Americans to rate the airline industry and 24 other businesses annually, with respondents scoring on a five-point scale from very positive to very negative.
Americans age 18 to 29 were more likely than those age 30 to 49 to express positive views of the airline industry, by 44% to 33%, respectively. Gallup pollsters said this could be attributed to changes in the industry, such as deregulation and increased security imposed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that occurred before many of the younger group began flying.
Airlines serving the United States carried a record 848 million passengers in 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported.
That’s up 2.5% over 2013, and 1.2% more than the previous record-high of 838.4 million in 2007.
Annual passenger totals dropped below 800 million during the recession years of 2008 and 2009.
Last year’s passenger increase was led by a 2.6% bump in domestic travelers, while the number of international fliers increased 2.3% over 2013, according to federal statistics.
More Americans have viewed the airline industry positively than negatively each year since 2013, Gallup reported. However, that streak may be under threat in light of statistics showing increased grumbling among passengers.
Complaints filed with the federal government’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division during the first six months of 2015 were up 20.3% from the same period during 2014. Additionally, on-time arrivals for the nation’s largest carriers fell to 74.8% in June from 80.5% in May, while the cancellation rate on domestic flights increased to 1.8% from 1.1%.
Since just before the 9/11 terror attacks, the airline industry has received a high positive rating of 38% three times in the Gallup poll, most recently in 2013. The low was 18% in 2008, the same year as a record high negative mark of 52%.
In 2008, the national economy was plunged into the Great Recession, with steep unemployment forcing consumers to cut back on travel. That, in turn, prompted airlines to introduce new fees and reduce services as they simultaneously wrestled with record-high prices for aviation fuel.