Had a miserable experience flying lately? You are not alone.

What the Washington Post called a “triple whammy” of robust demand for holiday travel, staffing shortages triggered by a surge in COVID-19 cases and winter storms at airline hubs has ushered in one of the worst periods for air travelers in years — and plenty of misery.

More than 28,000 flights have been cancelled since Christmas Eve, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware. That travel meltdown left thousands of consumers stranded, scrambling and even more frustrated than usual over the dizzying array of indignities of modern air travel.

It reinforced the notion that it’s no fun to travel by air anymore. In fact, it downright sucks.

It’s been a rough stretch for the airline industry. Consumer discontent with the airlines, which has been building for years, has been exacerbated by pandemic-related issues.

Despite receiving a $54 billion-taxpayer bailout last year to keep workers employed throughout the pandemic and the industry afloat, airlines appear to be treating customers worse than ever, according to complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Transportation since March of 2020.

A recent study of those complaints by a consumer advocacy organization, U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Education Fund, found that airlines repeatedly have canceled and delayed flights, denied refunds and failed at customer service.

The study revealed some airlines are understaffed because they elected to use federal relief funds to buy out workers and give them early retirement packages. “Fewer workers and fewer flights mean each changed, delayed or cancelled route affects a higher percentage of flights and flyers,” the study noted.

Even more disturbing, while these problems are a direct result of the airlines actions, the companies often refuse to issue refunds to many of their customers.

In fact, issues with refunds were the top complaints from airline passengers since the start of the pandemic, and carriers still owe travelers billions for canceled flights.

According to federal law, airlines are required to offer refunds for cancelled or significantly changed flights, though, during the COVID-19 outbreak, airlines have struggled to keep up, according to reports. Business Insider reported that aviation experts say airlines could owe customers as much as $20 billion in refunds after cancelling flights throughout 2020.

The lack of refunds has caused thousands of frustrated passengers to file complaints with the Department of Transportation. The study found that “airlines continue to put up roadblocks for consumers seeking refunds,” forcing customers to wait for their money or be stuck with travel vouchers they can’t use.

This is unacceptable. Airlines should be held accountable. Consumers should have more rights when it comes to air travel especially in this era of airline consolidation, diminished competition and higher prices.