Airline Data on Diversions 'Highly Suspicious', Says

July 14, 2009

NAPA, Calif., July 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following was released today by

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released the latest data installment for diverted commercial airline flights -- flights that make unscheduled stops before they reach their final destinations; to refuel, or due to weather or other in-flight emergencies. This is the eighth month since the DOT began keeping detailed statistics for diverted flights. An exclusive analysis of the data shows that American Airlines, American Eagle, United Airlines, Northwest Airlines and Delta Airlines collectively gave passengers an opportunity to deplane at a diverted airport 66% of the time, while the other fifteen largest U.S. airlines gave passengers that option 99% of the time -- according to the government data.

"If you believe DOT's statistics, you might avoid American, American Eagle, United and Delta because according to the DOT's numbers, those four airlines have alone been responsible for 1150 of 1181 instances where passengers were not allowed to deplane at a diverted airport," said Kate Hanni, president. Ms. Hanni's was one of 138 AA flights diverted on December 29th, 2006. Her family was stranded on AA flight 1348 for over nine hours without food, potable water or usable restrooms. According to the statistics, American Airlines did not allow passengers to deplane 61% of the time. The next closest airline was Delta with 47%.

"The data were so shocking that we asked the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS -- a department under the DOT) to verify the data before we released our analysis to the public, and we also asked the DOT's Inspector General to conduct an investigation," said Ms. Hanni. "If the airlines are not reporting this data correctly, that's a violation of federal law." Through both written statements and press accounts, the BTS and the airlines' trade association have insisted the data is correct. "The IG hasn't responded as yet."

"Meanwhile, we have an obligation to let consumers know which airlines have a track record of giving weary passengers an option to wait out the diversion in the comfort of an airport terminal, and which ones don't," said Ms. Hanni.

Spreadsheets and methodology for the diversion analysis can be obtained on the organization's website has over 25,000 members.

Contact: Kate Hanni Phone: (707) 337-0328 Email: [email protected]