The latest Airline Quality Rating (AQR) report is out, and the news is another black eye for the airline industry. Or is it? As far as I can tell, the AQR takes statistics already published elsewhere, assigns some numbers to them, and spits out a rating. Here’s what the AQR is in the words of its authors.

“The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) is a weighted average of multiple elements important to consumers when judging the quality of airline services. Elements considered for inclusion in the rating scale were screened to meet two basic criteria; 1) an element must be obtainable from published data sources for each airline; and 2) an element must have relevance to consumer concerns regarding airline quality. Data for the elements used in calculating the ratings represent performance aspects (on-time arrival, mishandled baggage, involuntary denied boardings, and 12 customer complaint areas) of airlines that are important to consumers. All of the elements are reported in the Air Travel Consumer Report maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation.”

I don’t question that those things are not important to consumers, I question why this report gets so much media play? It’s essentially a repackaging of already publicly reported data, perhaps in a slightly more digestible format. It also provides some cute sound bites for media to use to bash airlines….again. Of course, sometimes the airlines deserve it, and sometimes, they don’t. Either way, the annual AQR is not the biggest bit of air travel news ever, even if it is easy for the media to harp about.

-MJ, April 13, 2015