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January 2016 On-Time Performance Up From Previous Year, December 2015

Press Release Number: 
DOT 29-16
Monday, March 14, 2016
Media Contact: 
Dave Smallen, 202-366-5568

WASHINGTON – The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 81.3 percent in January 2016, up from both the 76.8 percent on-time rate in January 2015 and the 77.8 percent mark in December 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today. 

The reporting carriers canceled 2.6 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in January 2016, up from both the 2.5 percent cancellation rate posted in January 2015 and the 1.7 percent rate in December 2015.

The consumer report also includes data on tarmac delays, chronically delayed flights, and the causes of flight delays filed with the Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by the reporting carriers.  In addition, the consumer report contains a tally of aviation service complaints filed with DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division by consumers regarding a range of issues such as flight problems, baggage, reservation and ticketing, refunds, customer service, disability, and discrimination.  The consumer report also includes statistics on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the reporting carriers, data on oversales, and information about the total number of animals that died, were injured, or were lost during air transport in January, as filed by the air carriers with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Tarmac Delays

In January, airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours on domestic flights and eight tarmac delays of more than four hours on international flights.  All reported extended tarmac delays are investigated by the Department.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of January, there were seven flights that were chronically delayed – more than 30 minutes late more than 50 percent of the time – for two consecutive months.  There were no chronically delayed flights for three 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 January, the carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 18.71 percent of their flights were delayed – 4.87 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 5.70 percent in December; 5.43 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.64 percent in December; 5.06 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.13 percent in December; 0.50 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.66 percent in December; and 0.03 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.06 percent in December.  In addition, 2.62 percent of flights were canceled and 0.19 percent were diverted.

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.

BTS uses the data collected from airlines to determine the percentage of late flights delayed by weather, which includes those reported in the categories of extreme weather, late-arriving aircraft, and National Aviation System delays.  In January 2016, 29.76 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, down from 32.84 percent in January 2015 and from 32.77 percent in December 2015.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available from BTS.

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 3.32 reports per 1,000 passengers in January, down from both January 2015’s rate of 4.01 and December 2015’s rate of 4.04.

Incidents Involving Animals

In January, carriers reported one incident involving the death, injury, or loss of an animal while traveling by air, down from both the three reports filed in January 2015 and the four reports filed in December 2015.  January’s incident involved the death of one animal.

Complaints About Airline Service

In January, the Department received 1,697 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 14.8 percent from the total of 1,478 filed in January 2015 and up 8.4 percent from the 1,565 received in December 2015.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in January against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 79 disability-related complaints in January, up from the 52 complaints received in January 2015, but down from the 81 complaints received in December 2015.

Complaints About Discrimination

In January, the Department received seven complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – up from both the total of six recorded in January 2015 and the five recorded in December 2015.

Consumers may file air travel service complaints on the web at or by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.  They may also mail a complaint to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, W96-432, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline’s reservation number or their travel agent.  This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.  The information is also available on the appropriate carrier’s website.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT’s website at


March 2016

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 12 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers


     81.3 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 91.7 percent
  2. Alaska Airlines – 87.0 percent
  3. Delta Air Lines – 85.2 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. Spirit Airlines – 68.1 percent
  2. JetBlue Airways – 69.4 percent
  3. Virgin America – 74.5 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

* There were no domestic flights in January with tarmac delays exceeding three hours.

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

  1. Norwegian Air Shuttle flight 7002 from New York JFK to Oslo, Norway, 1/23/16 – delayed 422 minutes on the tarmac at New York JFK
  2. Copa Airlines flight 209 from San Francisco to Panama City, Panama, 1/17/16 – delayed 292 minutes on the tarmac at Dallas-Fort Worth after being diverted
  3. Qatar Airways flight 708 from Washington Dulles to Doha, Qatar, 1/22/16 – delayed 267 minutes on the tarmac at Washington Dulles
  4. American Airlines flight 992 from Belo Horizonte, Brazil to Miami, 1/15/16 – delayed 261 minutes on the tarmac at Tampa
  5. American Airlines flight 214 from Brasília, Brazil to Miami, 1/15/16 – delayed 261 minutes on the tarmac at Orlando

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights  

  1. JetBlue Airways – 3.9 percent
  2. American Airlines – 3.6 percent
  3. ExpressJet Airlines – 3.4 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.1 percent
  2. Alaska Airlines – 1.0 percent
  3. Frontier Airlines – 1.1 percent