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October Airline On-Time Performance Up From Previous Year, Month

Press Release Number: 
DOT 124-15
Monday, December 14, 2015
Media Contact: 
Caitlin Harvey, 202-366-4570

WASHINGTON – The reporting carriers posted an on-time arrival rate of 87.0 percent in October 2015, up from both the 80.0 percent on-time rate in October 2014 and the 86.5 percent mark in September 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report released today.  October 2015’s on-time arrival rate was the third highest of the 250 months with comparable records.

In addition, the reporting carriers canceled 0.5 percent of their scheduled domestic flights in October 2015, the second lowest of the 250 months with comparable records, and down from the 1.1 percent cancellation rate posted in October 2014.  Only September 2015’s 0.4 percent rate was lower.

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 statistics on mishandled baggage reports filed by consumers with the carriers and 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, consumer service, disability, and discrimination.  The consumer report also includes reports of incidents involving the loss, death, or injury of animals traveling by air, as required to be filed by U.S. carriers.

Tarmac Delays

In October, airlines reported one tarmac delay of more than three hours on a domestic flight and one tarmac delay of more than four hours on an international flight.  The reported tarmac delays are under investigation by the Department.

Chronically Delayed Flights

At the end of October, there were no regularly scheduled flight 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 total delays of 13.03 percent – 4.07 percent of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 4.16 percent in September; 4.00 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 4.20 percent in September; 4.03 percent by factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 4.10 percent in September; 0.24 percent by extreme weather, compared to 0.43 percent in September; and 0.02 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.03 percent in September.  In addition, 0.50 percent of flights were canceled and 0.17 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 October, 25.09 percent of late flights were delayed by weather, up from 24.53 percent in October 2014, but down from 27.84 percent in September 2015.

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

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delays and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 2.49 reports per 1,000 passengers in October, down from October 2014’s rate of 2.86, but up slightly from September 2015’s rate of 2.46.

Incidents Involving Animals

In October, carriers reported three incidents involving the loss, injury, or death of animals while traveling by air, down from the nine reports filed in in September 2015.  October’s incidents involved the death of one animal, injury to one animal, and one lost animal.

Complaints About Airline Service

In October, the Department received 1,527 complaints about airline service from consumers, up 25.8 percent from the total of 1,214 filed in October 2014, but down 17.8 percent from the 1,857 received in September 2015.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in October against airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities.  The Department received a total of 99 disability-related complaints in October, up from the 67 complaints received in October 2014, but down from the 115 complaints received in September 2015.

Complaints About Discrimination

In October, the Department received five complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin, or sex – down from both the total of nine recorded in October 2014 and the eight recorded in September 2015.

Consumers may file their 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


December 2015

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 13 Reporting Carriers and Tarmac Data Filed by All Carriers


     87.0 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

  1. Delta Air Lines – 92.1 percent
  2. Hawaiian Airlines – 90.7 percent
  3. Alaska Airlines – 88.2 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates 

  1. Spirit Airlines – 78.0 percent
  2. JetBlue Airways – 80.9 percent
  3. Virgin America – 83.3 percent

Domestic Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Three Hours

  1. American Airlines flight 1382 from Indianapolis to Dallas-Fort Worth, 10/22/15 – delayed on tarmac 217 minutes in Shreveport, La.

International Flights with Longest Tarmac Delays Exceeding Four Hours

  1. WOW air flight 117 from Reykjavík-Keflavík, Iceland to Baltimore-Washington, 10/9/15 – delayed on tarmac 256 minutes in Richmond, Va.

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights  

  1. Envoy Air – 1.2 percent
  2. ExpressJet Airlines – 1.0 percent
  3. American Airlines – 0.9 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

  1. Delta Air Lines – 0.0 percent*
  2. Frontier Airlines – 0.1 percent
  3. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.2 percent

* Delta Air Lines canceled 17 flights in October.