Fewest Cancellations, Tarmac Delays, Lowest Mishandled Baggage Rate
The nation’s largest airlines set record marks during the first half of this year for on-time performance, the fewest long tarmac delays, and the lowest rates of canceled flights and mishandled baggage.
According to the Air Travel Consumer Report issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the 15 largest U.S. airlines posted an 83.7 percent on-time arrival rate during the first six months of 2012, the highest mark for any January-June period in the 18 years the Department has collected comparable data. The previous high was 82.8 percent in January-June 2003. The 1.1 percent cancellation rate for the six-month period also was the lowest rate for the past 18 years, with the previous low being the 1.3 percent mark set in January-June 2002.
In addition, there were only four tarmac delays longer than three hours on U.S. domestic flights between January and June this year. This follows the Department’s rule, which took effect in April 2010, setting a three-hour limit for aircraft carrying passengers on domestic flights to sit on the tarmac. Exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.
There were a total of 35 tarmac delays for domestic flights between January and June in 2011, the first full year the domestic tarmac delay limit was in effect. In contrast, there were 586 tarmac delays of more than three hours between January and June of 2009, the year before the tarmac delay rule went into effect. Since August 2011, U.S. and foreign airlines operating international flights at U.S. airports have been subject to a four-hour tarmac delay limit.
The reporting carriers also posted their lowest rate of mishandled baggage for a January-June period since this data was first reported in September 1987. The record of 2.97 reports of mishandled baggage per 1,000 passengers improved on the previous January-June record low of 3.60 set last year.
“Our new airline consumer rules and our vigorous oversight of the aviation industry are holding airlines accountable to their customers,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We will continue to help make air travel as hassle-free as possible.”
Today’s report follows Tuesday’s second meeting of the Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection. The committee, established earlier this year to advise the Secretary on measures to protect the rights of air travelers, will help the Department continue to improve the air travel experience.
In addition to the tarmac delay rule, the Department has issued other rulemakings during the Obama Administration that have encouraged carriers to improve their on-time performance. These include a rule banning the continued operation of chronically delayed flights and a requirement that airlines post on their websites the on-time performance of their flights.
The report also includes data filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the reporting carriers on chronically delayed flights and the causes of flight delays. In addition, the report contains information on airline bumping, and consumer service, disability, and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. In addition, the report includes reports of incidents involving pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.