Delays worsen in US

The 19 carriers submitting on-time rate to the Department of Transportation, reported worse rates in October at 77.3%, compared to 86% the year-ago period and 86.2% in Sept-09.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), included data on lengthy tarmac delays, flight cancellations and the causes of flight delays by the reporting carriers, as well as reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Flight cancellations and three-hour-plus tarmac delays both rose in October 

Carriers canceled 1.0 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, higher than the 0.6 percent cancellation rate posted in both October 2008 and September 2009. Carriers also reported that .002 percent of their scheduled flights had tarmac delays of three hours or more, up from .001 percent in September. There were no flights with tarmac delay of four hours or more in October.

In October, the carriers filing reported that 8.52 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.92 percent in September; 7.20 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 3.88 percent in September; 5.26 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 3.89 percent in September; 0.52 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.37 percent in September; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.02 percent in September.

Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT’s Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category. In October, 41.14 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 19.28 percent from October 2008, when 34.49 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and up 18.94 percent from September when 34.59 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.

Mishandled baggage

The US carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.48 reports per 1,000 passengers in October, an improvement over October 2008’s rate of 3.55 but higher than September 2009’s 3.01 rate.

Complaints about airline service

In October, the Department received 896 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 42.4 percent from the 629 complaints filed in October 2008 and 48.3 percent more than the total of 604 received in September 2009. The increase in the number of October complaints is attributed primarily to British Airways’ erroneous offer of $40 fares between the United States and India. The carrier has agreed to compensate consumers for cancellation penalties and other expenses incurred due to the mistake.

Complaints about treatment of disabled passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in October against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 52 disability-related complaints in October, up from both the 41 complaints filed in October 2008 and the 28 complaints received in September 2009.


Based on data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 19 reporting carriers

Highest on-time arrival rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 93.4 percent
  2. Alaska Airlines – 85.8 percent
  3. JetBlue Airways - 82.9 percent

Lowest on-time arrival rates

  1. Northwest Airlines – 69.3 percent
  2. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 71.6 percent
  3. ExpressJet Airlines – 72.6 percent

Most frequently delayed flights

1. Southwest Airlines flight 3545 from Phoenix to Sacramento, CA – late 95.45 percent of the time
2. Southwest Airlines flight 1366 from Chicago Midway to Minneapolis-St. Paul – late 92.31 percent of the time 3. Southwest Airlines flight 2544 from Phoenix to Los Angeles – late 92.31 percent of the time
4. Comair flight 6352 from Houston to New York JFK – late 90.32 percent of the time
5. Pinnacle Airlines flight 4285 from Sioux Falls, SD to Minneapolis-St. Paul – late 90.00 percent of the time

Flights with longest tarmac delays

There were no flights with tarmac delay of four hours or more in October.

Highest rates of canceled flights

1. Pinnacle Airlines – 2.3 percent 2. American Eagle Airlines – 2.3 percent 3. Mesa Airlines – 2.1 percent

Lowest rates of canceled flights

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.0 percent*
  2. Continental Airlines – 0.2 percent
  3. JetBlue Airways – 0.3 percent

*Hawaiian Airlines canceled three flights in October

Want More Analysis Like This?

CAPA Membership provides access to all news and analysis on the site, along with access to many areas of our comprehensive databases and toolsets.
Find Out More