U.S. Air Travel Consumer Report: February 2021 Numbers
The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its April 2021 Air Travel Consumer Report (ATCR) on airline operational data compiled for the month of February 2021. The ATCR is designed to assist consumers with information on the quality of services provided by airlines.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in significant changes to airline schedules and operations in February 2021.
The 10 marketing network carriers reported 350,170 scheduled domestic flights in February 2021 compared to 379,384 flights in January 2021 and 623,103 flights in February 2020. Of those 350,170 scheduled flights, 5.8%, 20,201 flights, were canceled. As a result of schedule reductions and cancellations, the carriers reported operating 329,969 flights in February 2021, compared to 375,229 flights in January 2021 and the all-time monthly low of 180,151 flights in May 2020. Airlines operated 617,008 flights in February 2020.
February On-Time Performance
In February 2021, reporting marketing carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 80.1%, down from both 89.0% in January 2021 and 83.8% in February 2020.
Highest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates February 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
Lowest Marketing Carrier On-Time Arrival Rates February 2021 (ATCR Table 1)
In February 2021, reporting marketing carriers canceled 5.8% of their scheduled domestic flights, up from both the rate of 1.1% in January 2021 and 1.0% in February 2020.
Lowest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights February 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
Highest Marketing Carrier Rates of Canceled Flights January 2021 (ATCR Table 6)
In February 2021, airlines reported 10 tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights, compared to no tarmac delays reported in January 2021 and one tarmac delay reported in February 2020. In February 2021, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights, compared to no tarmac delays reported in January 2021 and two tarmac delays in February 2020.
Airlines are required to have and adhere to assurances that they will not allow aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights without providing passengers the option to deplane, subject to exceptions related to safety, security, and Air Traffic Control related reasons. Extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.
In February 2021, the reporting marketing carriers posted a mishandled baggage rate of 4.85 mishandled bags per 1,000 checked bags, a higher rate than the January 2021 rate of 3.92 per 1,000 checked bags but lower than the February 2020 rate of 5.05 per 1,000 checked bags.
Mishandled Wheelchairs and Scooters
In February 2021, reporting marketing airlines reported checking 15,865 wheelchairs and scooters and mishandling 206, a rate of 1.30% mishandled, higher than the rate of 1.21% mishandled in January 2021 but lower than 1.35% in February 2020. In February 2020, the airlines checked 50,250 wheelchairs and scooters, mishandling 678.
Incidents Involving Animals
In February 2021, carriers reported no incidents involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from both the two reports filed in January 2021 and the two reports filed in February 2020.
Complaints About Airline Service
In February 2021, DOT received 3,313 complaints about airline service from consumers, down 16.5% from the 3,966 received in January 2021 and up 178.4% from the total of 1,190 filed in February 2020. Of the 3,313 complaints received in February 2021, 797 (24%) were against U.S. carriers, 1,813 (55%) were against foreign air carriers, and 703 (21%) were against travel companies. Also, of the 3,313 complaints received, 2,681 (80.9%) concerned refunds. The Department’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection continues to communicate with airlines and travel companies that received a large number of refund complaints to ensure compliance with the refund requirements. Many passengers who had initially been denied refunds have received the required refunds. The Department will take enforcement action against noncompliant airlines and ticket agents as necessary.
Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers
In February 2021, the Department received a total of 32 disability-related complaints, down from both the 36 complaints received in January 2021 and the 72 complaints received in February 2020.
The Air Carrier Access Act and the Department’s implementing regulation prohibit discrimination by airlines against individuals on the basis of disability. All complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability are investigated by the Department.
Complaints About Discrimination
In February 2021, the Department received six complaints alleging discrimination – two complaints regarding race, one complaint regarding color, one complaint regarding religion, and two complaints regarding sex. This is equal to the six complaints received in January 2021, but down from the seven complaints recorded in February 2020.
Federal law prohibits discrimination in air transportation by airlines on the basis of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, or sex. The Department investigates all complaints that it receives alleging discrimination.