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America's Meanest Airlines
Meanest major carrier: United Airlines
Meanest regional carrier: American Eagle
Most complained about airline: Delta Air Lines
Most likely to be unsafe: Jetblue
Most likely to overcharge for bags: Delta / US Airways / Continental
Most likely to bump you: American Eagle
Most likely to be late: Comair
Most likely to mishandle your bag: American Eagle
Daunting stuff, right? Maybe. Bear in mind, that the AQR samples a limited data set over a limited market, and that the term "worst" doesn't necessarily mean that service is bad. American Eagle, for example, mishandles 7.15 bags for every thousand that go through its hands. The best carrier? Air Tran at 1.63 per thousand. That's 1 drop in the bucket versus 1.0002 drops in the bucket.
Our suggestion? If you really want to figure out why each airline performed the worst in its own category then download the AQR yourself and flip through the data. It's the only way you can get an accurate gauge of quality.