Kiichiro Sato / AP
A year after a United Airlines passenger was violently dragged from a plane for refusing to be hit, United and most other airlines drastically reduced their flight rates for flights with excess flights.
published on Monday shows that airlines have also improved in other areas of service provision, but the authors of the report warn that this does not mean that commercial trips have improved significantly.
The airline's annual quality rating by researchers from Wichita State and Embry -Riddle Aeronautical Universities shows that, as a whole, the 12 largest airlines in the US. UU They improved their performance last year in three of the four categories in a row.
However, annoyances such as tight seats, gift cuts and additional fees for almost everything are not measured in the report, and are used by airline travelers despite performance improvements in other areas, says one of the co-authors Of the report.
A year ago, United Airlines suffered a fiasco in public relations after security agents at O & # 39; Hare Airport in Chicago dragged the passenger Dr. David Dao from a plane. Officers were summoned when Dao refused to give up his seat on a flight to Louisville, Ky. The video of the cell phone of a bloody Dao being dragged caused public outrage around the world.
The data shows that the airline rate loses or damages luggage, unintentionally striking passengers on overbooked flights, and passengers who filed complaints against airlines with the federal Department of Transportation fell in 2017 as of 2016.  The only measure in this report for which airlines did worse last year than the previous year was their punctual performance, and that only decreased slightly, with 80 percent of flights arriving at their destinations on time in 2017 in compared to 81 percent in 2016.
Does that mean that the experience of flying in a commercial aircraft is getting better?
"While it could be better in a standard performance form," says the co-author of the Quality Score report from airline Dean Headley, a professor at Wichita State University. "I'm not sure the flying public will realize that [improvement]."
In other words, Headly responds with a twist to a catchy phrase, saying "plane travel is great again".
"Now you can follow that with a period, a question mark or an exclamation point; [it] depends on what happened on your last flight."
The airline quality reports show that three airlines that had qualified near the end last year, United, American and Frontier, improved in each category. But an airline that had been ranked near the top, Virgin America, performed worse in all categories.
Collectively, Headley says it seems that for every step the airlines take, they take a step back.
"They do things to help, but then they take out the gun and they shoot at the foot on the other end of the thing," says Headley.
Point out things that are not measured in this report, such as the increasingly reduced economy class seat, as airlines clog more seats on airplanes to pack more bodies that pay fares on each plane. You can get more legroom, but you have to pay for it. Do you want to check your luggage? You probably have to pay for it.
"Our expectations have been reduced in air travel," he says, "and the airlines have not done anything [to] by backing up."
Headley points out that United in particular, stands out by halving the number of passengers who inadvertently struck in half last year, but did so only after the video of the bloodied passenger being dragged out of an airplane it went viral. United is changing its policies and procedures for transporting animals, but only after several high profile incidents of pet abuse, including one in which a dog placed in a raised compartment died.
"I feel a bit disappointed when an incident is needed, a very bad incident for airlines to react and do something about it," says Headley. "Should not you be thinking about this ahead of time if you care about the customers and the customer experience?"
Advocates of passengers echo these frustrations.
Kurt Ebenhoch of the Air Travel Fairness group notes that although the bloody passenger led to international outrage and sparked hearings in Congress and demands for new legislation to hold airlines liable, it resulted in little real progress.
"Not a single law was modified or a single regulation passed," says Ebenhoch. "Nothing was done from the government's perspective to prevent that from happening again."
In fact, Ebenhoch says the airlines are actively lobbying the Trump administration to further deregulate the industry, and says the administration is "giving a light green" to such efforts and is "trying to take every consumer's protection that has been in place for a terribly long time. "
Ebenhoch notes that this annual airline quality report, which is now in its 28th year, if airlines were not required to report their performance data.