The AP reports some good news for beleagured airlines. They carried fewer people last year but the ones they did carry were happier and lost fewer bags. With fewer late flights, overbooked flights and even fewer complaints, maybe this means that people are beginning to accept the diminished levels of service that has defined airline travel of late.

In the complaints department, there is still no rival to the industry leader, US Air. Out of 100,000 flyers, 2.25 had enough of a beef to file a complaint. Southwest topped the list of airlines with the fewest complaints, just .025 per 100K.  Another reason might be that if you mention Southwest on Twitter, they instantly send you a direct message. Maybe they have cut down on the number of people who beef in writing to the Dept of Transporation since they’ve gotten satisfied by the company directly through Twitter.

Complaints are nothing new, but handling them in such a direct and person way might be  a huge part of the airlines new strategy for making them better. The other element is rewarding travelers who have been wronged in the past with a free upgrade or even a complimentary drink on the flight. Southwest and others have used customer management software to track disgruntled travelers when they return for another trip.

It’s the little things, so often that really make a difference.