WASHINGTON – In October, airlines improved their on-time performance while posting a lower rate of canceled flights and mishandled baggage than the same period in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report released today. In addition, airlines reported no long tarmac delays or chronically late flights for two consecutive months or more, and consumers filed fewer complaints with DOT about airline service.
The consumer report also includes data on the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers, as well as disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. The consumer report also includes reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of pets traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.
Airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and no tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights in October.
The larger U.S. airlines have been required to file complete reports on their long tarmac delays for domestic flights since October 2008. Under a rule that took effect Aug. 23, 2011, all U.S. and foreign airlines operating at least one aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats must report lengthy tarmac delays at U.S. airports.
Also beginning Aug. 23, 2011, carriers operating international flights may not allow tarmac delays at U.S. airports to last longer than four hours without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane. There is a separate three-hour limit on tarmac delays involving domestic flights, which went into effect in April 2010. Exceptions to the time limits for both domestic and international flights are allowed only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons. Severe weather could cause or exacerbate such situations.
The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 84.1 percent in October, up from both October 2012’s 80.2 percent mark and from September 2013’s 83.8 percent.
The reporting carriers canceled 0.6 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in October, down from both the 2.8 percent cancellation rate posted in October 2012 and the 0.9 percent rate posted in September 2013.
Chronically Delayed Flights
At the end of October, there were no regularly scheduled flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months or more. A list of flights that were chronically delayed for a single month is available from BTS.
Causes of Flight Delays
In October, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 4.69 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.41 percent in September; 5.80 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 5.81 percent in September; 4.46 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.45 percent in September; 0.22 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.40 percent in September; and 0.02 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.03 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.
The Department received 755 complaints in November 2013, down from both the 988 complaints filed in November 2012 and the 857 received in October 2013.
Airlines Report Five Tarmac Delays Over Three Hours on Domestic Flights, No Tarmac Delay Longer Than Four Hours on International Flights in May
Airline consumer complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division during the first nine months of this year were down 14.1 percent from the first nine months of 2012