AIRLINES: Up, Up And Awry

Up, Up And Awry

A coup for airline passengers! That was the initial reaction in mid-October when the Department of Transportation issued its first monthly ranking of airline performance. At last, here was a way to select a carrier based on a report card for punctuality, baggage handling and overbooking. Alas, the rankings are turning out in many cases to be misleading and unfair. A primary reason, say critics, was that the Government was too vague in telling airlines how to tabulate their data, so that the carriers used widely differing criteria in deciding what to report.

In the category of "mishandled" baggage, the Government...