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Top-performing airlines of 1999

Airline passengers complained like never before last year, according to a study released last week by researchers at Wichita State University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Consumer complaints more than doubled in 1999 with an average of 2.5 complaints per 100,000 passengers.

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Even so, Southwest Airlines delivered the best-quality service among major carriers last year.

Besides complaints, the results were also based on a carrier's on-time performance, baggage handling, and denied boardings.

Here's how the 10 major US airlines were ranked (from best to worst):

1. Southwest

2. Continental

3. Delta

4. Northwest

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5. Alaska

6. US Airways

7. American

8. America West

9. Trans World

10. United

In all, 7 of the 10 airlines rated posted lower scores in 1999 than in 1998, the study says. US Airways was 1998's top scorer.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society