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Dimensional Analysis of Airline Quality


  • Everette S. Gardner

    () (Decision and Information Sciences Department, C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, 4800 Calhoun, Houston, Texas 77204-6021)


Dimensional analysis is widely used in physics and engineering to contribute to modeling systems in which variables are measured in incompatible units. I used dimensional analysis to rank the airlines in overall quality based on US Department of Transportation data: on-time arrivals, denied boardings, mishandled baggage, and customer complaints. The results conflict with the well-known airline quality rating (AQR), published annually since 1991 by Bowen and Headley. Weighted averages of quality data in the AQR are dimensionally incorrect and produce rankings that are virtually independent of on-time arrivals. For example, the 2001 AQR ranks Alaska Airlines first in overall quality, despite the worst on-time performance in the industry. Dimensional analysis places Alaska Airlines near the bottom of the industry, seventh in overall quality.

Suggested Citation

  • Everette S. Gardner, 2004. "Dimensional Analysis of Airline Quality," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 34(4), pages 272-279, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:orinte:v:34:y:2004:i:4:p:272-279

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eliezer Naddor, 1966. "Dimensions in Operations Research," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 14(3), pages 508-514, June.
    2. L. Ivan Epstein, 1957. "Letter to the Editor---A Proposed Measure for Determining the Value of a Design," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 5(2), pages 297-299, April.
    3. Carlos F. Daganzo, 1987. "The Break-Bulk Role of Terminals in Many-to-Many Logistic Networks," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 35(4), pages 543-555, August.
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