The Transportation Department, in releasing its monthly Air Travel Consumer Report, said the agency was introducing data on discrimination complaints in response to concerns about discriminatory treatment by the airlines and a jump in such complaints this year. (These complaints — based on federally protected criteria such as race, national origin and religion — are compiled separately from complaints regarding the treatment of people with disabilities.)
The agency said Tuesday that the Aviation Consumer Protection Division received 67 discrimination complaints in the first nine months of 2016, up from the 49 complaints received in the same period last year, a 37 percent increase. Fifty-two of this year’s complains involved race, eight were based on national origin, one “regarding color,” two involving religion and four involving allegations of sex discrimination, the agency said.
In September alone, the agency received six discrimination complaints, including three that alleged racial discrimination, two involving national origin and one involving religion. That number was down from the number of complaints in September 2015 and from August of this year, the agency said.
As for complaints regarding the treatment of disabled passengers, the department received a total of 61 complaints in September, down from 116 in September last year.
The monthly report — which also includes data on airlines’ on-time performance, flight delays, baggage handling, incidents involving animals and other issues — also found that carriers canceled only 0.3 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in September 2016, the lowest since January 1995. The August 2016 cancellation rate was 1.4 percent, the agency said.
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