Airline passenger complaints continue to rise

Canceled flights, tarmac delays, and mishandled baggage are all reasons the federal government is reporting a huge increase in complaints from angry airline passengers.

"It’s crazy," frequent flyer Sarah Brown said from Dulles International Airport. "Everything from bags being delayed, bags being lost, I mean I’ve never waited so long for bags ever."

DULLES, VIRGINIA - DECEMBER 27: Passengers wait in line to check in for their flights at the Dulles International Airport on December 27, 2021 in Dulles, Virginia. According to media reports, at least 2,600 more flights were canceled Monday amid the

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported Wednesday that they fielded complaints from more than 7,000 passengers in August. That’s up 6% from July, and it’s a whopping 320% increase from August 2019, before the pandemic.

Flight problems like delays or cancelations were the top complaint (32%), followed by baggage issues (23%) and refunds (20%).

Travel expert Troy Petenbrink told FOX 5 that in many cases, staffing issues are to blame.

"Pre-pandemic if a flight was canceled, customers were usually able to get booked, and rebooked really quickly. Unfortunately because of staffing issues, because of limited routes, that’s not happening," Petenbrink said, adding that the shortage is even impacting American’s traveling experiences in ways they might not expect.

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"We’re actually not seeing an increase in lost luggage," he explained. "But what we are seeing is a delay in actually getting that luggage back to customers because again, short staff."

Petenbrink doesn’t expect the issue to get much better anytime soon. In fact, he said that with flu season starting up, the staffing problem could get even worse.