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Arizona Researcher Blames Poor Service With Airlines On Mergers, Consolidations

For 25 years, Brent Bowen has been studying airline passenger satisfaction. Bowen, dean of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's College of Aviation in Prescott said research and surveys reveal airlines are under-performing when it comes to things like on-time performance, baggage handling and customer complaints.

"The main criticism today is the fact that now the airlines have the money to make flying a more pleasant experience, and they're choosing not to," he said.

Instead, Bowen said airlines are finding ways to make passengers do more work – from checking in to attaching tags to their bag – and finding ways to charge more fees.

“It’s going to be widespread very soon that we’re going to have to pay for a carry-on bag like they do in Europe," he said.

Bowen thinks the traveling public needs a designated voice.

“We don’t have an AAA or AARP representing our interests to the airline industry or to the federal government, so we’re kind of at their mercy,” he said. 

In conjunction with Wichita State University, Embry-Riddle will release results of the annual Airline Quality Rating in April. 

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.