As travelers flocked back to flying, Dallas airports were among the worst for delays in 2022.
Of the 30 busiest U.S. airports, DFW International Airport ranked No. 15 with a 77.19% on-time arrival rate for 2022, rising from its previous 2021 ranking at No. 26 with a 77.69% on-time arrival rate, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
To compare, Salt Lake City has the best airport for punctual flights, with more than 84.3% landing on time, followed by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport and home of Delta Air Lines, with 82.3%.
Dallas Love Field declined to comment, stating that the airport’s operations team does not have a role in the flight scheduling process or the movement of aircraft in and out of the airfield, since those responsibilities fall to the airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration. DFW Airport also declined to comment.
“Both of Dallas’ major airports are some of the busiest airports in the United States,” said Tomasz Pawliszyn, CEO of passenger advocacy firm AirHelp. “For smaller, less congested airports it can be easier to have a higher percentage of on-time flights. Especially in the wake of COVID, airports and airlines have been working to get staffing up to meet the increased travel demand, but the reality is that many are still operating understaffed.”
AirHelp uses data to evaluate international airlines and airports based on service quality, on-time performance, claims processing and food and shops. Pawliszyn said DFW Airport was ranked 48 out of 151 airports around the world, according to his company’s study.
He said busier airports, like Dallas’ two, are likely seeing fewer on-time flights as a result of staffing-related delays. Pawliszyn also said weather can impede on-time flights, as well as general congestion in the air.
Last week, the Department of Transportation unveiled its monthly air travel consumer report, which details services provided by carriers at airports. The report draws data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics on flight delays and ranks major U.S. airports based on their overall on-time arrival rates.
In December 2022, when winter storm Elliott delayed and canceled thousands of flights, Dallas Love Field had a 64.2% on-time arrival rate and 58.5% departure rate, according to the report. That same month, DFW International Airport had a 70.2% on-time arrival rate and a 68.7% departure rate.
This comes just a couple of weeks after DFW Airport earned the title North America’s best large airport by industry trade group Airports Council International. The award recognizes airports with a top 20% overall satisfaction score by size and region at departure, according to the organization.
Dallas Love Field also rose in the major airport rankings, despite a December hit from its headquartered carrier Southwest Airlines’ holiday meltdown, to No. 24 at a 72.8% on-time arrival rate.
Weather, which accounted for a small number of delays in 2022 at both Dallas airports, can “pose one of the biggest setbacks” because it isn’t predictable, Pawliszyn said.
“Even the most advanced weather predicting technologies can be wrong, and both over-preparations and under-preparations can be costly for airports, carriers and personnel,” Pawliszyn said. “Additionally, weather at a departing airport could be perfect, but if there is inclement weather over a flight path or in the arrival destination, this can also cause disruptions in a place like Dallas where weather is relatively consistent.”
Pawliszyn emphasized that passengers should understand their rights and when they are owed compensation for canceled, delayed or overbooked flights.
In 2021, Love Field was ranked No. 30 out of the top 30 major U.S. airports with a 71.83% on-time arrival rate. The airport underwent a runway rebuild in 2021 that limited it to one runway for most of the year and some of 2022. Its primary runway reopened in June last year, after a 14-month teardown and rebuild.
Airline on-time arrival rates still lagged 2019 levels at most of the country’s major carriers including Fort Worth-based American Airlines and Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. For 2022, American ranked No. 4 for on-time arrivals at 77.1%, with 1.7 million operations scheduled. Southwest ranked No. 6 for on-time arrivals in 2022 at 73.18%, with 1.3 million flights scheduled last year.
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