Airline Quality Ratings

About the Airline Quality Rating

The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) was developed and first announced in early 1991 as an objective method of comparing airline quality on combined multiple performance criteria. This current report reflects monthly Airline Quality Rating scores for the past calendar year. AQR scores for the calendar year are based on 15 elements in four major areas that focus on airline performance aspects important to air travel consumers.

The Airline Quality Rating is a summary of month-by-month quality ratings for U.S. airlines that have at least 1% of domestic passenger volume. Using the Airline Quality Rating system of weighted averages and monthly performance data in the areas of on-time arrivals, involuntary denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and a combination of 12 customer complaint categories, airlines' comparative performance for the calendar year is reported. The research monograph contains a brief summary of the AQR methodology, detailed data and charts that track comparative quality for domestic airline operations and overall industry results.


The Airline Quality Rating (AQR) System

The majority of quality ratings available rely on subjective surveys of consumer opinion that are infrequently done. This subjective approach yields a quality rating that is essentially non-comparable from survey to survey for any specific airline. Timeliness of survey-based results can be a problem in the fast-paced airline industry as well. Before the Airline Quality Rating, there was effectively no consistent method for monitoring the quality of airlines on a timely, objective, and comparable basis. With the introduction of the AQR, a multi-factor, weighted average approach became available that had not been used before in the airline industry. The method relies on taking published, publicly available data that reports actual airline performance on critical quality criteria important to consumers and combines them into a rating system. The final result is a rating for individual airlines with interval scale properties that is comparable across airlines and across time.

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.

The Airline Quality Rating criteria and the weighted average methodology allow a focused comparison of airline domestic performance. Unlike other consumer opinion approaches that rely on consumer surveys and subjective opinion, the AQR continues to use a mathematical formula that takes multiple weighted objective criteria into account in arriving at a single, fully comparable rating for airline industry performance. The Airline Quality Rating provides both consumers and industry watchers a means for looking at comparative quality for each airline on a timely basis, using objective, performance-based data. Over the years, the Airline Quality Rating has often been cited as an industry standard for comparing airline performance. With the continued global trend in airline operations alliances, the argument becomes even stronger for the Airline Quality Rating to be used as a standard method for comparing the quality of airline performance for international operations as well.