IN BRIEF

CAMARILLO, Calif.

Gasoline prices rise, new survey reports

A survey says the national average price for gasoline rose 5 cents over the last two weeks.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline on Friday was $3.32 a gallon, mid-grade was $3.44 and premium was $3.55. That’s all according to the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide released Sunday.

Of the cities surveyed, the cheapest price was in Newark, N.J., where a gallon of regular cost $3.03, on average. The highest was in San Francisco at $3.72.

WASHINGTON

Customer complaints about airlines increase

Late flights and lost bags, to say nothing of higher fares, are making air travelers grumpy, an annual survey of airline quality says.

The industry posted declines last year in every area of the Airline Quality Rating, amid rising fuel prices, safety problems and bankruptcy filings that shut down three carriers last week alone.

The biggest change was in the rate of consumer complaints, up 60 percent overall. The rate more than doubled at US Airways and Comair, and rose for 15 of the 16 airlines included in the study. The exception was Mesa Airlines.

On-time arrivals dropped for the fifth straight year, with more than one-quarter of all flights late, according to the survey. The rates of passengers bumped from overbooked flights and bags lost, stolen or damaged also jumped in 2007.

“The trend is bad and it doesn’t look like it gets any better,” said Dean Headley, an associate professor at Wichita State University and co-author of the study being released today.

It is not surprising that people responded to higher prices and delays by complaining more, he said.

Six airlines — Frontier, Northwest, SkyWest, Southwest, United and US Airways — showed declines in every area in the survey, although Southwest still had the best on-time arrival mark at 80.1 percent.

The Dallas-based carrier also had the lowest rate of consumer complaints, 0.26 per 100,000 passengers.

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