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US airlines on-time performance in January better than December

The largest airlines’ rate of on-time flights in United States this past January was higher than in December but lower than in January 2007, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). 

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), the 20 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 72.4 percent in January, down from January 2007’s 73.1 percent but an improvement over December 2007’s 64.3 percent. 


The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers.  In January, the carriers canceled 2.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, up from the 2.5 percent cancellation rate posted in January 2007 but down from the 3.5 percent rate recorded in December 2007.   

Causes of Flight Delays 

In January, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 8.42 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 10.41 percent in December; 8.41 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 10.89 percent in December; 6.79 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 9.15 percent in December; 0.88 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.38 percent in December; and 0.07 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.08 percent in December.  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.   

Data collected by BTS also shows the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In January, 43.56 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up 4.51 percent from January 2007, when 41.68 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, and down 0.02 percent from December when 43.57 percent of late flights were delayed by weather.    

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 7.37 reports per 1,000 passengers in January, an improvement over both January 2007’s rate of 8.19 and December 2007’s 9.01 rate. 

Incidents Involving Pets  

In January, carriers reported four incident involving pets while traveling by air, up from one incident in December.  All of the January incidents involved the death of pets. 

Complaints About Airline Service 

In January, the department received 1,174 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 55.7 percent from the 754 complaints filed in January 2007 and up 38.3 percent from the total of 849 received in December 2007.    

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers 

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in January against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 43 disability-related complaints in January, 48.3 percent above the 29 filed in January 2007 and more than double the total of 18 complaints filed in December 2007.  

Complaints About Discrimination

In January, the Department received 11 complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – up from both the totals of 10 received in January 2007 and two filed in December 2007. 


January 2008

KEY ON-TIME PERFORMANCE AND FLIGHT CANCELLATION STATISTICS: Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 20 Reporting Carriers


  • 72.4 percent on-time arrivals  

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates 

Hawaiian Airlines – 94.1 percent Aloha Airlines – 93.1 percent US Airways – 79.5 percent  

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

United Airlines – 62.1 percent
SkyWest Airlines – 65.3 percent
American Eagle Airlines – 65.9 percent  

Most Frequently Delayed Flights 

1.   Mesa Airlines flight 7173 from Des Moines, IA to Chicago – late 94.12 percent of the time

2.   United Airlines flight 334 from Chicago to Columbus, OH – late 92.86 percent of the time

3.   SkyWest Airlines flight 6360 from Salt Lake City to San Francisco – late 92.00 percent of the time

4.   Mesa Airlines flight 7177 from Chicago to Des Moines, IA – late 90.91 percent of the time

5.   Mesa Airlines flight 7297 from Chicago to Allentown, PA – late 88.89 percent of the time 

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights 

1.      Mesa Airlines – 6.5 percent

2.      American Eagle Airlines – 5.6 percent

3.      SkyWest Airlines – 5.2 percent  

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flight

1.      Frontier Airlines – 0.2 percent

2.      Aloha Airlines – 0.6 percent

3.      Continental Airlines – 0.8 percent

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.